The latest figures from the NHS on council funded care services show, one again, that there has been an overall fall in the numbers of people receiving services. 110,395 less people received services in 2011/2012 a drop of 7%.
At the same time the Royal College of Physicians warn that acute hospital services are on the brink of collapse because of the increasing number of elderly patients, particularly those with dementia, they claim that many feel that older people ‘shouldn’t be there’ and are calling for a redesign of services to better meet patients need (click here for RCP press release).
In other words it appears we are seeing a reduction in community care services resulting in increased pressure on the NHS and this is an issue that needs to be tackled immediately.
This situation is one that can only get worse if left unchecked by the new Ministerial team at the Department of Health.
Kent County Council, for example, are proposing (in their 2013/14 budget consultation) to reduce spending on adult social care by £18m, a cut of 5% and while they claim to be able to do this without harming care services it certainly seems the reduction in council led services is only increasing those in the NHS. Undoubtedly other councils are proposing similar cuts in the adult social care budgets which will lead to more elderly people entering hospital.
The popular press has lead the campaign on who should pay for social care and it seems likely that the Dilnot proposals will be introduced. However this does not solve the issue of how much social care costs and, it seems now, we have some evidence that lack of funding in social care simply transfers the issue to the NHS and, undoubtedly costs the state more in the process.
Care for older people in England, particularly those with dementia, needs to be examined properly and the costs of providing the best possible care acknowledged.
It is only by properly assessing the cost of social care that the issue of who actually pays for it can be sorted.
We have a new Ministerial team in the Department of Health and they must put the care of the most vulnerable in society at the top of the list otherwise the crisis in care will only continue and lead to a greater crisis in health provision.