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1 million+ NHS days lost to people waiting for care

Published on 13 May 2013 11:00 PM

People are having to wait on average 13% longer in hospital before finding a place in a residential care home, compared to when the Government came to power, with over 1 million NHS days having been lost to people waiting for social care since 2010.


Now those waiting to be transferred to a care home wait on average 30.3 days - costing the NHS £7,575 each on bed and board costs alone.

An NHS bed costs on average around £250 a day - compared to the £524 average weekly cost of residential care.

Those waiting for a social care package to be put together in their own home are also having to wait 12.8% longer - on average 27 days. Whilst those needing adaptations such as grab rails or ramps to be fitted in their home now wait nearly 10.4% longer spending an average of nearly 27 days in hospital on average compared to 25.8 when the Government came to power.

Overall the underlying trend for days lost to delayed discharge is up by 1.5% from 1,360,230 in 2010/11 to a projected total of 1,381,445 for 2012/13. 

In total in 2012/13 nearly 36% of the total number of delayed discharge days in the last year are linked to waiting for social care provision. 

The total estimated cost to the NHS of delayed discharge linked to waiting for social care provision since the Government came to power is £260million - or over 1 million NHS days (1,040,193).

The Government's vision for care needs proper funding

Age UK welcomes the Government's vision announced today of joined up health and community care but cautions that for the vision to become reality, there needs to be good social care provision in place with sufficient funding.

Over the last 2 years most local authorities have been struggling to balance the books as their budgets have been slashed. Since the Government came to power, £710 million in real terms has in turn been cut from social care budgets, mostly through reduced local authority funding.

According the care sector experts Laing and Buisson, in 2010/11 51% of care home places were bought by local authorities, with a further 10% funded by local authorities through direct payments.

Of the estimated £7.8 billion pounds spent annually on non-residential social care, £4 billion was spent by English local authorities.

Who is eligible for funding?

Over the last 2 years, many councils have raised their eligibility criteria meaning that older people have to be more frail and disabled to qualify for help. There are only a small handful of councils who now provide care to those assessed as having 'moderate' care needs - broadly, those who are unable to carry out three or four domestic or personal tasks such as washing, preparing a meal, getting dressed or brushing your teeth.

Only those with more severe limitations assessed as 'substantial' or 'critical' are able to get any help from most councils.

There is no age breakdown available for patients affected by delayed discharge. On average 68% of local authority funded social care is provided to those over 65 and 77% of residential home places are occupied by that age group.

Support our campaign to reform the care system

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK: 'Waiting in hospital needlessly not only wastes NHS resources, but it can also undermine an older person's recovery and be profoundly upsetting for them and their families as a result.

'We are very worried that the growing crisis in social care is having a significant impact on the length of time that older people are having to stay in hospital waiting for social care support to be put in place.

'The steep rise in the length of time people are waiting for a care home place, home care or adaptations - significantly above the general rise in delayed discharge waits - suggests that something has gone seriously wrong in the transition from hospital to home or residential care during the time when we know social care spending has fallen dramatically.

'We need the Care Support Bill to be twinned with both an emergency injection of funds to shore up the current system and a long term commitment to finding sufficient resources to make sure that every older person gets the care they need, when they need it.'

Age UK's Care in Crisis campaign has already persuaded the Government to improve care in some important ways. Age UK are encouraging more people to join its latest campaign action to put pressure on the Government to solve the care crisis.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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