Long-term care crisis leads to service cuts

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.

At a meeting between the council and the health authority at the
weekend, a £6.9 million emergency package was agreed to deal
with the backlog 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 Birmingham Council, described the city’s
predicament as a “national problem which has been made more serious
in Birmingham by a series of local factors”. He 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 Stephen Byers, secretary of state at the
Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, in these
discussions because any extra money found for social services will
impact on other social services, or alternatively call for
unacceptable increases in council tax.”

Birmingham GP and local secretary of the British Medical
Association Dr Fay Wilson said the inability of the social services
department to meet its obligations to assess and meet the care
needs of older people was 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 that had been
rising by 40 beds per month.

Plans to cut neighbourhood renewal initiatives to fund long-term
care follow controversy about Birmingham council’s decision to
spread its neighbourhood renewal money between a greater number of
wards rather than concentrate solely on the poorest 10 per cent of
wards, where black and ethnic minority people predominantly

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

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