NHS in danger of being buried under social care ‘avalanche’, Sir Ed Davey warns
The NHS is in danger of being buried under a social care “avalanche” as patients struggle to find adequate care to allow them to leave hospital, according to the Liberal Democrats leader.
Sir Ed Davey (pictured) is to say in a speech that two in five patients are unable to leave hospital when they are well enough as a result of a lack of available social care.
House of Commons Library data commissioned by the Lib Dems suggests that the NHS, which marked its 75th anniversary on Wednesday, lost close to 129,000 bed days in England to delayed discharges from hospital in May — up almost a third on the same period last year, according to the party.
Sir Ed, in pre-briefed extracts of his speech to the Local Government Association conference on Thursday, is expected to say: “Social care has been under extreme pressure for years. Now it’s turning into an avalanche, and threatening to bury the NHS.
“We know that the crisis in the NHS is inextricably linked to the crisis in social care. You can’t fix the NHS without fixing social care.
“The crisis in social care means that only two in five people are able to leave hospital when they are ready to do so, putting even more pressure on already overstretched hospitals.
“It’s all connected. And it’s all causing so much pain and distress.”
The Lib Dems are calling for the introduction of a carer’s minimum wage of £2 more than the current national minimum wage, which as of April stands at £10.42 per hour for those aged over 23, in a bid to tackle shortages in the social care sector.
The party says it would help address the 165,000 vacancies in social care that were recorded in 2021/22.
“There aren’t nearly enough carers. More than one in 10 frontline care jobs are unfilled, leaving more than two-and-a-half million people without the care they need,” Sir Ed will tell town hall chiefs in Bournemouth.
“This isn’t a job we can outsource to ChatGPT. We simply have to recruit more carers.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are working to ensure patients leave hospital as soon as they are ready and expect the vast majority of people to be discharged to their home or place of residence.
“Over the next two years we are making a record investment of £1.6 billion to support timely and safe discharge from hospital into the community.
“This is on top of £700 million to ease hospital pressures over last winter and buy thousands of extra beds in care settings.”
Ahead of the final day of the conference, the LGA published survey results indicating that the number of local councillors who have reported feeling at risk in their role due to rising levels of abuse and intimidation has increased to a new high in the last year.
Some 82% of councillors said they felt at risk at least some of the time while fulfilling their role, up from 73% last year.
Cllr Marianne Overton, chairwoman of the LGA’s civility in public life steering group, said: “Abuse and intimidation aimed at local councillors is completely unacceptable and it is deeply concerning that this survey suggests that this is a problem that is growing.
“If left unaddressed, it risks forcing good councillors out of local politics altogether.”
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