Social care ‘must be properly resourced’ if the government hopes to streamline the transition from hospitals to social care settings for patients, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced on 3 July that measures would be implemented to support the NHS and local government in reducing delays for people being discharged from hospital to local social care services.
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These measures would see local authorities agreeing with local NHS organisations on the contribution they will make to reducing the number of delayed transfers of care in their local areas.
Mr Hunt also promised a performance dashboard showing how health and social care partners in every local authority area in England are performing against a number of criteria.
Gary Kirwan, senior employment relations advisor for the RCN, welcomed the reforms while expressing concerns about the current social care system’s ability to keep up.
He said: ‘It’s clear that cuts to local authority social care budgets are putting more pressure on the NHS. Social care too is struggling to cope as the CQC this week highlighted the completely unacceptable safety failings across social care services.
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‘Overstretched nurses in the acute and social care sectors will welcome measures which ensure patients get the care they need in the right setting. However social care must be properly resourced if any strides are to be made in reducing delayed discharges of care.’
The measures promise to keep an eye on delayed transfers of care, emergency admissions, length of stay in hospital, the number of people still at home 90 days after being discharged from hospital.
Mr Hunt said: ‘This government is clear that no-one should stay in a hospital bed longer than necessary. It removes people’s dignity; reduces their quality of life; leads to poorer health and care outcomes for people; and is more expensive for the taxpayer.
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‘In this year’s mandate to NHS England, I set a clear expectation that delayed transfers of care should equate to no more than 3.5% of all hospital beds by September.’
The government pledged £2 billion to local councils over the next three years to fund adult social care. Mr Hunt’s department has also asked the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to commission 12 reviews of local areas to consider how well they are working at the health and social care boundary.