The government will provide £25m in emergency aid to councils to help them tackle delayed discharges and reduce pressures on hospitals over the winter.
The money will go to 65 councils in areas most afflicted by delayed discharges, will be distributed this week and must be spent by the end of March, The Guardian has reported. The move was “a recognition of the vital role social services have to play in the care of vulnerable people” and a “tribute to social workers and care staff who work so hard”, said Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president David Pearson.
Rise in delayed discharge numbers
It also highlights concerns that social care cuts are leading to increases in delayed discharges from hospital, putting further pressure on hospitals facing rising demand from accident and emergency.
The number of days in which a person medically fit for discharge from hospital has been delayed in doing so has risen by 10% from January-November 2013 to January-November 2014, show NHS England figures. There has been a 6% rise in the numbers of delayed days attributable to social care, for example because of placements in care homes or home-based packages of care were not available. However, the number of delayed days attributable to social care in November 2014 – 37,004 – was 24% higher than the equivalent figure in November 2013.
Pearson said the £25m would not be sufficient either to plug gaps in council adult care budgets or solve problems in A&E. Concerns were also voiced, by King’s Fund assistant director of policy Richard Humphries that the money may make matters worse by rewarding areas that had failed to manage delayed discharges.
£25m for Council’s to speed up hospital discharges http://t.co/ueL9zPlca0 … one-off money that may make things worse & reward poor outcomes
— Richard Humphries (@RichardatKF) January 20, 2015