Birmingham scraps neighbourhood schemes to fund residential care places

Neighbourhood renewal projects in Birmingham have been scrapped
to fund extra residential care placements amid fears that delayed
discharges are pushing the city’s hospital services towards the
brink of collapse, writes Lauren

At a meeting between the council and the health authority, a
£6.9 million emergency package was agreed to deal with the
back-log of older people waiting to leave hospital, and to meet
expected demand over the next nine months.

The majority of the additional money – £5.9 million – will
come from the council, which will be forced to cut £3 million
worth of neighbourhood renewal initiatives, delay capital projects,
and borrow from school reserves. The remaining £1 million will
come from the health authority for additional placements.

The emergency package means that funded monthly placements of
older people into nursing and residential homes will increase from
93 to 180.

Albert Gore, leader of the council, described the city’s
predicament as a “national problem which has been made more serious
in Birmingham by a series of local factors”, and called for a
meeting with either health secretary Alan Milburn or health
minister Jacqui Smith.

“Social services departments up and down the country are under
intense pressure,” Gore said. “We will be asking ministers to
consider this issue in deciding upon next year’s revenue support

“I want to include secretary of state at the department of
transport, local government and the regions Stephen Byers in these
discussions, for any extra money found for social services will
impact on other social services, or alternatively call for
unacceptable increases in council tax.”

Dr Fay Wilson, Highgate GP and local secretary of the British
Medical Association, said the inability of the social services
department to meet its obligations to assess and meet the care
needs of older people was both jeopardising the hospital admissions
system and resulting in vulnerable people being left at home
despite being assessed as requiring residential or nursing

Wilson said that, between the city’s hospitals, 250 medical beds
had been turned into social care beds for older people awaiting
residential, nursing or home care packages – a figure which had
been rising by 40 beds per month.

Meanwhile, further cuts to adult services were agreed last month
at a meeting of the council’s social services and health advisory

* Plans to cut neighbourhood renewal initiatives to fund
long-term care follow earlier controversy over Birmingham council’s
plans to spread its share of the neighbourhood renewal fund between
a greater number of wards rather than concentrating solely on the
poorest – predominantly black and ethnic minority – 10 per cent of

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