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Ailing health and social care for an ageing Britain
Posted in Employers on Jan 31, 2012 by Richard Hayden
A survey conducted by the Commons Health Select Committee found that councils are currently cutting social care budgets by an average of 6%, whilst simultaneously raising charges for services such as home help.
Councils have reduced spending on care home placements, by providing fewer places and driving down the fees paid to homes. Along with cuts to 'preventive services' such as grab rails and walking frames that allow elderly people to remain in their homes for longer.
Councils are spurred on by MPs warnings that funding cuts were becoming "more urgent day by day" and that the Government needed to overhaul the social care system and increase funding.
800,000 elderly people are forced to buy care privately, rely on family and friends or simply go without
This wide-ranging report also commented that, far reaching reorganisation of health services are needed to make the savings, yet NHS trusts were still trying to "salami slice" budgets and reach targets with short-term cuts. The situation was not sustainable and the 'magnitude' of the challenge had not been fully grasped. Adding: "In spite of Government assurances, local authorities are having to raise eligibility criteria in order to maintain social care services to those in greatest need.
"The overall picture of social care is of a service that is continuing to function by restricting eligibility, by making greater savings on other local authority functions and by forcing down the price it pays to contractors for services." The Committee recommend that The Government consider diverting more money from the NHS into social care.
Estimations by the King's Fund suggest that there are as many as 800,000 elderly people who need care but are not receiving state help and are forced to buy care privately, rely on family and friends or simply go without.
Louise Lakey, Policy Manager of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: "We undoubtedly need a radical shake up of how we fund health and social care. Dementia costs the UK £20 billion a year and this is set to rise to £27 billion by 2018.
"Improving dementia services, for example by providing support in the community, can save money and deliver better care for people with the condition.
"This can only happen if we sort out the woeful communication between the services and end the chronic underinvestment in social care. Now is a golden opportunity to develop a system that is sustainable and fit for purpose.
"Local decision making has the ability to transform dementia care but only if the government ensures that commissioners are held to account. A million people will develop dementia in the next ten years. We must act now."
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