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NHS Confederation - Care Bill enters final stages

MPs will debate the remaining stages of the Care Bill on 10 and 11 March. Ahead of the debate, the NHS Confederation put forward several recommendations to ensure the intentions behind the legislation become a reality.
 

Social care funding

In a briefing issued to parliamentarians last week, the Confederation agreed with the Care and Support Alliance that the objectives of the Care Bill and social care reform will not be met without sufficient funding.

With a funding gap between what the Dilnot reforms will provide and the resources needed in social care, the organisation urged for the shortfall to be addressed.

Impact on NHS

NHS Confederation members have told the organisation that when people’s needs are not met by the social care system, they turn to the NHS, resulting in an increased demand for emergency and unplanned work, and delays in discharging people from hospital.

This has had a big impact on the number of people admitted to hospital as emergencies, and delays in discharging patients, the Confederation said.

Funding settlement

The organisation has long argued that a sustainable long-term funding settlement for social care that allows local authorities to spend money on all those who need care is crucial if current pressures on the NHS are to be relieved.

Social care plays a key role in preventing people from reaching crisis point when they need more intensive and costly treatment, and therefore needs to be funded to keep people as well as possible, for as long as possible. 

BCF 'not new money'

Though the Better Care Fund (BCF) helps by providing a mechanism for pooling some resources across health and social care and using these where they will deliver the best outcomes for local populations, it must be made clear that the fund is not new money, and that delivering good care with limited resources will require tough choices, the Confederation said.

Reshape care

The briefing also emphasised the need for the health and care system as a whole to work together to reshape care in order to meet the needs of the high – and growing – number of people with long-term conditions and often complex needs.

The health service is still largely structured as it was decades ago, when the main expectation was the treatment of one-off episodes of illness.

Free at the point of need will become unsustainable

The health service now needs to provide much more community-based care, and join NHS care seamlessly with social care, in order to keep people as well as possible for as long as possible, and prevent them reaching crisis point, the briefing argues.

The organisation cautioned that if a post-election drive for change in the way care is provided is not achieved, it is possible the current basis of the NHS, free for all at the point of need, will become unsustainable in the future.

The Confederation's 2015 Challenge campaign is calling for an honest national debate about how the NHS needs to change if provision of care, free at the point of need, is to be sustainable.

Find out more

Download the parliamentary briefing.

Read more in our briefing Papering over the cracks: the impact of social care funding on the NHS, which sets out the NHS Confederation’s recommendations for a lasting solution for the funding of social care and a redoubling of efforts to integrate care.

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