Green paper must address “elephant in the room” of social care funding

Alzheimer’s Society has called on government to address the ‘elephant in the room’ of social care funding, in response to calls to cut long stays in hospital.

At the annual NHS Confederation conference on Wednesday, NHS England and NHS Improvement chief executives Simon Stevens and Ian Dalton committed to tackling the problem which sees up to a fifth of hospital beds occupied for three weeks or more.

Responding, Sally Copley, director of policy and campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s great to see the Government sitting up and taking this issue seriously. But the elephant in the room is social care funding, and this issue will never be fixed until that’s addressed.

She has told NHS officials that last winter 1,400 people with dementia were stranded in hospital beds on Christmas day, because of a lack of social care in the community. She added: “To fix this we need to create a social care system capable not just of supporting people with dementia back into the community, but also helping them to remain there. 50,000 people were rushed to hospital last year because of avoidable conditions, like dehydration and infections, as a result of poor care.”

In a new report on reducing emergency admissions, Public Accounts Committee MPs have told ministers that nearly one and a half million emergency admissions could be avoided with better preventive care and more effective social services. Calling for “informed discussions” with HM Treasury about the Green Paper on future funding of social care, MPs said: “The combination of rising demand for social services and limited local authority finances [is] particularly worrying.”     

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