UK faces shortage of 100,000 care home beds, report warns

The UK faces a 100,000 shortage in care home beds by 2020 because of council cuts and the ageing society, Bupa warned today.

The UK faces a 100,000 shortage in care home beds by 2020 because of council cuts and the ageing society, Bupa warned today.

The care home operator said that this would lead to significant rises in delayed discharges from hospital as older people were denied the care that they needed.

The report, Who Cares? Funding Adult Social Care Over The Next Decade, comes after Community Care revealed the extent of the pressures on independent care homes and other providers due to council cuts, with one in five expecting to go out of business.

Bupa’s figures are based upon projected real-terms cuts to adult social care budgets, which it concluded would open up an 81,000 gap between the need for and availability of beds, and demographic pressures, which it said would add a further 18,000 to the gap.

“Today’s report reveals that the scale of the problem is much bigger than we thought,” said Mark Ellerby. “Unless councils protect funding for the elderly, thousands of vulnerable, frail older people will be unable to get the care home places they need and will have no option but to go into hospital. Not only is this deeply concerning for them and their families, but it is also worrying for the already stretched NHS as it will create a bed blocking crisis which will affect us all.”

Its concerns were echoed by NHS and carer leaders.

The health service was “extremely worried” about the impact of social care cuts on the NHS in the shape of increased bed-blocking, said NHS Confederation deputy policy director Jo Webber.

“It is a false economy to allow more, often the most vulnerable, patients to end up in hospital rather than providing the right support where they need it most, in their communities,” she said. “There are already signs of strain in some places.”

“We are particularly concerned about the impact this shortfall will have on the ability of families to take a break from caring while the person they care for is looked after,” said Carers UK chief executive Imelda Redmond. “This crisis could also place extra pressure on families to provide care at home when they are no longer able to do so.”

Bupa called for the “£2bn a year” in funds earmarked for adult social care in England in the government’s spending review to be ring-fenced.

This money is split into two parts: approximately £1bn a year that has been given to the NHS, most of which will be passed on to councils to be spent on services such as telecare, equipment and hospital discharge support; and £1bn a year earmarked for councils. However, this latter sum is included within, not additional to, a 28% real-terms cut to council funding from 2011-15, so is not new money.

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