Wednesday, 8 Feb 2023

Relationship between NHS and social care ‘starting to break down’

Rishi Sunak faces question on NHS crisis

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Mr Armitage said: “The interface between the NHS and social care, A&E and discharge, or the front door and the back door of the healthcare mechanism, is where we’re seeing the biggest pinch points and the system is really starting to break down.

“When I was a doctor, I saw first hand the number of people lying in beds waiting to be discharged and things have only gotten worse.”

Patients are currently in a position where even though they are fit to be medically discharged, they are unable to leave hopsital care as the social care system on the other side can’t cope with their care.

Mr Armitage says the research conducted by his company Florence “shows that the issue will only be exacerbated – over half (57 percenr) of healthcare professionals say it will lead to longer wait times and two in five (42 percent) believe that there is a greater risk of bed blocking”.

He added that the in spite of the challenges that “healthcare professionals up and down the country have delivered amazing care, supported communities and kept the healthcare sector running over the past few years”.

These same healthcare professionals recently decided enough was enough and have undertaken strike action. 

In response to their action and pressure from the NHS, the government has announced a series of actions aimed at tackling the issues in A&E and social care.

Part of the solution is a £200 million investment, some of which is going towards improve the discharge of patients into social care.

The money will be used to “give patients the support they need from GPs, nurses, and other community-based clinicians to continue their recovery” says the government.

The aim of these discharges is to free up beds in the NHS so that people will be less likely to be treated in corridors or waiting rooms.

The Government also said that the additional funding “on top of the £500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund already announced which reached the frontline in December and is already helping discharge people more quickly will fund maximum stays of up to 4 weeks per patient until the end of March”.

They added that they were also putting 50 of the £200 million to expanding “discharge lounges and ambulance hubs.

“Ambulance queues in some areas are made worse due to a lack of physical space – the new money will create new ambulance hubs where vehicles can manoeuvre more easily to avoid delays handing over patients.

“The funding boost will also expand discharge lounges in NHS trusts – areas where patients can be moved out of acute beds while they wait to be discharged, freeing up beds in the meantime”.

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Minister for Care, Helen Whately said of the new plans: “Getting people out of hospital on time is more important than ever. It’s good for patients and it helps hospitals make space for those who need urgent care.

“We’re launching 6 Discharge Frontrunners to lead the way with innovations to help get people out of hospital and back home. Winter is always hard for the NHS and social care, and this year especially with flu in high circulation.

“That’s why we provided the £500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund earlier in the winter. As well as helping people right now, we’re looking ahead to make our health and care system work better next winter and beyond. These problems are not new but now is the time to fix them for the future.”

The funding comes on top of the additional £14.1 billion planned investment by the government between now and 2024. The hope is that if that money is spent well, it could help tackle some of the systemic issues within the NHS.

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