£5.3 billion government pot to integrate health and social care has not achieved a single target and is ‘little more than a ruse’ to plug gaps in local authority budgets, MPs have warned.
In 2015, the Department of Health set up the Better Care Fund with the intention of cutting down emergency admissions and bed-blocking, where patients are medically fit to leave hospital but there are delays to arranging their social care in the community. However, in a damning report, the Public Affairs Committee found that the fund was ‘little more than a complicated ruse to transfer money from health to local government to paper over the funding pressures on adult social care.’
Liz McAnulty, Chair of the Patients Association, said: “The Better Care Fund was always pretty plainly a way of shifting funds from the NHS to social care. The crisis in social care funding had been brewing since at least the turn of the decade, and the BCF was always a sticking-plaster solution rather than the commitment to adequate funding of social care that was really needed. We believe that the current funding settlement for health and social care must be revisited, as it is plainly proving inadequate.”
Under original plans, bed-blocking should also have fallen by a total of 293,000 hospital days but it actually increased by 185,000 compared with 2014/15