Mixed reaction to Government Spending Review
The Government’s Spending Review will see £2billion taken from the NHS to improve integration between hospitals and social care services.
Chancellor, George Osborne, revealed a new £3.8billion joint budget, which the NHS will share with local authorities that organise care homes and home help services.
It is hoped the cash will ease the pressure on hospital A&E departments, which are often the first point of call when social services are unavailable, particularly during the evenings and at weekends.
Elderly people, in particular, will benefit from the cash, which it is hoped will prevent the problem of bedblocking in hospitals as patients wait to be discharged into the care of social services or nursing and care homes.
Osborne said: “I want to make sure everyone gets a properly joined-up service where they won’t have to worry if that service is coming from the NHS or the local council.
“Let’s stop the tragedy of people being dropped in A&E on a Friday night to spend the weekend in hospital because we can’t look after them properly in social care.”
Spending more on social care in the community will save the NHS at least £1billion a year, Osborne claimed.
In his speech to MPs, he also unveiled new plans to cap lifetime care costs, which are currently unlimited and lead to thousands of people having to sell their homes to pay for continuing care.
But the new rules will only apply to those people who local authorities deem to have ‘substantial needs’, he added
For decades we have been talking about better integrated health and social care services and we have put our money where our mouth is
Welcoming the changed, Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said: “This is a truly historic moment for the joining up of health and care around people’s lives.
“I am excited about the prospect of working with our integration pioneers to champion the integration of health and care services across the country and this joint health and care budget will give local areas the freedom and encouragement to drive integration at the frontline.”
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, added: “For decades we have been talking about better integrated health and social care services and we have put our money where our mouth is.
“We need to work differently to respond to the changing needs of the population and that means making joined-up services the norm, not the exception.
“That’s why we have agreed extra money to meet growing pressures, but with conditions that ensure the money is spent where it is needed the most.
“The NHS budget will continue to be protected, but at a time when efficiencies are vital this settlement will make sure we get maximum out of every pound spent.”
But the switch in funding has been slammed for further slashing NHS budgets.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, which represents hospital trusts, said the reform would put a ‘major squeeze’ on frontline services.
The NHS is already struggling to cope with the largest financial squeeze in its history. This is a major gamble
He added: “We welcome investment in social care as a way of reducing demand on the NHS. But the NHS is already struggling to cope with the largest financial squeeze in its history. This is a major gamble.”
While some remain concerned over the impact of the Spending Review on the NHS, there has been a much more positive reaction to news of a £185m cash injection for the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to support innovation in industry, including a biomedical catalyst.
The money will be made available for the financial year 2015/16. Welcoming the cash, Steve Bates, chief executive of the Bioindustry Association, said: “We are delighted that the Government will continue to support the Biomedical Catalyst. One of the key measures in its Strategy for UK Life Sciences, which has been warmly received across the sector.
“I am meeting with the TSB next week to understand the details of how this funding will be scheduled and allocated.”