It was great to once again join the Horsham District Older Peoples Forum on Friday. As ever, a range of questions were asked but there was, unsurprisingly, a particular focus on the NHS and social care.
Several weeks ago I spoke to the team at East Surrey Hospital about their concerns on not being able to discharge medically fit patients who require ongoing non-medical care either at home or in social care. Difficulty discharging these patients has a ripple effect right through the hospital.
Following this call, I raised these concerns both with the County Council and direct with Health Ministers. I know I was not alone in doing so but I was delighted to see further support for the social care sector to tackle this issue announced in the Autumn Statement.
Clearly any increase in funding has to be paid for through national or local tax and in this case a two-year delay to the Dilnot Reforms. However I believe the increase in support of up to £2.8 billion next year and £4.7 billion the year after is the right priority – for those who need support and the NHS.
This increase in funding will allow the social care sector to deliver an estimated 200,000 more care packages over the next two years.
I followed this up with WSCC on Friday who have already been speaking to providers and are developing at pace their plan to utilise this funding locally.
Prior to the Autumn Statement £500m had been allocated to local authorities specifically to help with the discharge process. WSCC have received their allocation - a better than anticipated £16.4m. This will help WSCC to deliver on “assess to discharge” – the difficult process of ensuring those leaving hospital have the right care package and an appropriate placement.
Happily, we are all on average living longer and there is an increasing number of people living well into old age. These demographic changes inevitably require additional investment – including record levels into social care and the NHS. In doing so we are supporting not just those needing social care but all those of any age who may need to use the NHS.