You really need to do something to halt the impact NHS cuts are having on social care. Things are getting out of hand.
The NHS deficits took several years to grow to their present size but you seem locked in panic mode, forcing trusts to balance the books over the next 12 months. So in some parts of the country the NHS is engaged in what it describes as “narrowing the definition of healthcare.” That’s cutting services to you and me, but what is happening is that social care is having to pick up the tab instead. OK, it may do some things – like continuing care – better than the NHS. But, as you are well aware, your funding allocations do not reflect this shift in responsibility.
The amount of money you make available to the NHS and to social care is now seriously out of balance. No doubt that is something you will look at in your comprehensive spending review next year. But what we want to impress on you is that local authorities just can’t wait another 13 months.
The situation is desperate and local authorities need an urgent grant now to meet these extra responsibilities; something along the lines of the winter pressure money you have made available in the past to the NHS. This time local authorities need you to recognise they are struggling with an impossible burden.
The picture is a patchy one and some areas are in a worse state than others. The extra cash needs to be weighted towards those authorities in parts of the country where the NHS cuts are most swingeing.
You also need to be aware that a dangerous precedent is being set. Where the NHS has pulled out of providing care and the local authority has stepped in, some people are having to pay for a service that they received free before. Others are just not receiving a service at all any more.
We want you to come up with a cash lifeline because service users are really beginning to suffer. But if that’s not a good enough reason, you might want to reflect that when it comes to election time those same people at the sharp end of the cuts you are presiding over will hold your fate in their hands. And they may just ask themselves the question “does this government really care anymore?”
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