Councils given new cash to reduce delayed discharges

Social services are set to receive £300 million over the
next three years to tackle delayed discharges, writes
Katie Leason

Speaking on the day that the Community Care (delayed discharges
etc) Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons,
health secretary Alan Milburn announced that £100 million
would be transferred from the NHS budget to social services for
each full year for the next three years.

Under the bill, social services will have to pay hospitals for
the cost of caring for individuals who are ready to leave hospital,
but who have their discharge delayed because social services has
not organised appropriate alternative care.

Milburn said that he was making the money available “to
provide a positive incentive to make the system work” before
fines are introduced next April.

“My intention is not to punish local government, but to
pursue a real and sustained reduction in delayed discharge,”
he said.

But Jenny Stiles, deputy head of policy at Help the Aged,
described the announcement as “stunningly absurd”.

“Even with this funding, councils will not have time to
invest the extra money to improve services before the fining
begins, and the system creates needless and costly
bureaucracy,” she said.

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