Councils allocated £2.9 billion in social care funding to free up thousands of hospital beds

Around 15,000 hospital beds are to be freed up as hospitals brace themselves for an influx of patients with Covid-19.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that £2.9 billion of the Government’s emergency Covid-19 fund would be allocated towards helping the vulnerable and ensuring capacity in hospitals.

DHSC said £1.9 billion is to be allocated to local authorities so they can shore up social care services and help services which care for other vulnerable groups including the homeless.

And £1.3 billion is to be used so the NHS can “enhance” its discharge process so that patients who “no longer need urgent treatment can return home safely and quickly”.

The funding will cover the follow-on care costs for adults in social care, or people in need of additional support, when they are out of hospital and back in their homes, community settings, or care settings, DHSC said.

It is hoped that the measures will mean that “at least” 15,000 hospital beds will become available, ready to treat people in urgent need of care.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This funding will help the NHS and social care services in our communities to rise to this once in a generation challenge by allowing the NHS to do what it needs to, and help move people out of hospital as soon as possible to get them back home with the right support.

“We are clear that we will do whatever it takes to protect lives and protect our NHS.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, said: “I’ve been clear that the NHS and other vital public services will receive whatever they need to protect people from Coronavirus.

“Our £5 billion Budget response fund is now being used to free up more beds in hospitals and ensure some of our most vulnerable people are getting the care they need.”

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick added: “The work of local authorities to deliver social care and other vital public services has never been more important than it is now – and will be – in the days and weeks ahead.

“That’s why we’re giving local councils £1.6 billion of additional funding to spend where it’s needed most, to ensure they can meet the cost of the increased demand for social care, and continue to protect the most vulnerable people in society.”

Ian Hudspeth (pictured), chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “The LGA has been working with government on the need for extra resources for adult social care services to cope with this crisis. This extra funding will be crucial to support the tireless efforts of council social care staff to continue to support and protect people who rely on social care.

“It will help free up hospital beds so that the NHS can treat people suffering from coronavirus, by ensuring that people who are fit to leave hospital get back home or to a community-based service as quickly and safely as possible.”

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