Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has announced an extra £240m will be allocated to pay for social care packages this winter to support the NHS. The announcement, made in a speech to Conservative Party conference is aimed at preventing the log jams in A&E departments that led to record delays for patients last winter.
‘I can announce that today I am making an extra £240 million available to pay for social care packages this winter to support our NHS,’ said Mr Hancock. ‘We’ll use this money to get people who don’t need to be in hospital, but do need care back home, back into their communities, so we can free up those vital hospital beds, and help people who really need it, get the hospital care they deserve.’
Mr Hancock also stated that the green paper on reform to social care will be released this year, saying: ‘We need reforms of social care too, to make it sustainable for the long term. So people don’t have to fear the risk of losing everything if for a reason outside their control they end up needing care when they’re old. Reform of social care is long overdue and we’ll publish a paper later this year setting out the progress we can make to give all people confidence and dignity in old age.’
Reacting to Mr Hancock’s speech, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: 'Of course any extra funds for social care are welcome. It is a sign that health ministers are fighting the battle for social care within government. But as we approach winter, we need to accept that social care is in a perilous state - the market for providing care is incredibly fragile, with operators pulling out or closing down. There is a risk of another scandal such as Winterbourne View and we continue to see NHS hospitals unable to discharge patients because there is nowhere to support them in the community.
'More importantly, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people are unable to access the care and support they need.'