‘Where Best Next?’ NHS plan can only work if social care is supported

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Plans to help people avoid lengthy stays in hospital are wonderful, but will only work if social care is supported too, providers warned today.

The NHS is taking action to try to prevent people spending too long in hospital in its campaign ‘Where Best Next?’.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) which represents providers who give care to older and vulnerable people, today welcomed the move but said social care had to be supported better if the plan was to work.

The Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “We are 100 per cent behind anything that helps keep people, particularly older and vulnerable, out of hospital and in more suitable places – that is essentially partly what social care is all about.

“But the plan can only work if there is the right level of care available for people once they are discharged from hospital and the current crisis in social care means that cannot be guaranteed.

“We need to see urgent action taken to better fund social care so that there is homecare or a care or nursing home place available to avoid costly delayed discharges.”

The ICG says social care is in crisis with 1.4m people living without the care they need and providers failing. It has written to the Prime Minister inviting him to visit social care providers on the frontline at its base in North Yorkshire to see the challenges facing the sector. It is calling for urgent action to be taken straight away to get extra funding into social care, even if that is before the publication of the long-delayed Green Paper. It argues that there is a human case and an economic case for supporting social care. Support for social care eases pressure on the NHS by keeping people out of costly NHS hospital beds. The sector employs 1.62m – more than the NHS – and contributes £40.5bn to the economy.

The ICG says the past 17 years has seen 13 documents – four independent reviews/commissions, four consultations and five white and green papers on care. It argues that action, rather than further discussion, is now overdue.

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