The Chancellor’s announcement today of an additional £2billion for adult social care is to be welcomed.
This funding, if focused appropriately, can bring benefits far beyond the immediate area of investment. As it stands the numbers of delayed transfers of care are rising, and the proportion of those delays attributable to Social Care has increased over the last year to 36%, from 32% in December 2015. Addressing this will be good news for both patients and their families and for the NHS.
However, we must be very clear that social care budgets don’t just impact the elderly: vulnerable families, children, and working age adults are affected too. For many in these groups, the right care is not delivered in only a clinical environment; it is delivered through services like school nursing, relapse prevention, addiction treatments and others.
It may be tempting for cash strapped councils to raid the public health budget, but this is also short sighted. Without adequately funded Tier 1 and 2 services like counsellors, social workers and health visitors, those in need of help are driven into A&Es, causing avoidable suffering, hardship and cost.
While it is positive that the Government have recognised the crisis in social care, it is crucial that this is not a short term fix. There must be a commitment to find a long term answer to funding pressures which recognises the crucial role social care plays in supporting older people and other vulnerable groups, such as children and young people with mental health problems.