The government has unveiled a £500m adult social care grant to free up hospital beds and bolster the care workforce this winter.
The funding, announced today by health and social care secretary Thérèse Coffey, is designed to tackle the issue of people fit for discharge not being able to leave hospital for want of social care, preventing new admissions and causing backlogs in ambulance handovers to accident and emergency departments.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said there were currently 13,000 people in hospital who should be receiving care in the community.
The DHSC had provided dedicated funding for hospital discharge from March 2020 to March 2022 to help keep free up beds during Covid. That fund provided for people to receive four to six weeks’ free social care on leaving hospital to remove barriers to discharge.
There is no prescribed level of care that people should receive on discharge under the new adult social care discharge fund, with the DHSC saying it should be used flexibly and also desployed to tackle recruitment and retention problems in the care workforce.
These have mounted over the past year, with vacancies in adult social care rising by 52% in 2021-22, and are seen as a key reason for the lack of availability of social care for people who can leave hospital.
The DHSC said it would also provide £15m to support care providers to recruit staff from overseas, which it said would help with visa processing, accommodation and pastoral support for new recruits.
It also plans to launch a domestic adult social care recruitment campaign shortly, to encourage more people into the sector.