Commenting on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement today, Prof John Appleby, Chief Economist of the Nuffield Trust health think-tank, said:
“The Chancellor’s failure to heed any of the calls for more money for social care means that vulnerable elderly and disabled people will pay the price. Our calculations show there are already 400,000 fewer people getting help from their local council than five years ago – that’s a huge number of people not getting help with the most basic activities of daily life, such as being able to get out of bed in the morning or get dressed.
“In addition to the considerable human cost of this lack of funding, starving social care of cash is also having a serious knock-on effect on the NHS, with more and more patients trapped in hospital beds when they could leave with more local authority support. The most recent figures show that these delayed discharges from hospital have now reached their highest level since the health service started to keep records. Not only is hospital not the best place for most of these patients, NHS Trusts will find it extremely difficult to balance their books while this problem persists.
“What’s more, the increase in the living wage announced today, whilst welcome for workers, will mean additional costs of around a third of a billion for social care providers from next year.
“The Autumn Statement also underlines that the austerity measures affecting all public services will continue till the end of the decade. This is grim news for the NHS, which has already been struggling to cope with the effects of years of underfunding. In particular, it’s impossible to see how the NHS will get through the year 2018/19, when spending per person will fall. Something will have to give, whether it’s ballooning waiting lists, record deficits, or having to refuse patients new drugs”.