Spending cuts 'hit nursing care'
Published on 12 March 2013 12:00 PM
The quality of nursing care for older people has been jeopardised by spending cuts in the majority of local authority areas over the past two years, new figures show.
The total reduction in spending on older people's nursing services amounts to £125 million since 2011, according to data specialists SSentif Intelligence.
Of 150 councils that provide social care services, 144 are said to have cut their spending on nursing care for older people by at least 8%.
Most underprivileged the most effected
Some of the most underprivileged parts of the country have experienced the biggest cuts, Ssentif Intelligence says, with the example of Hull where the amount spent on supporting older people in nursing care was cut by 41%.
In Manchester a 23% cut was reported and in Liverpool there was a 20% cut.
SSentif managing director Judy Aldred described it as 'inevitable' that frontline services are being affected by the spending reductions.
But she said the most worrying feature of the study is that 'some of the most vulnerable members of our society' appear to be feeling the effects of the cuts.
She also raised the question of whether the drop in spending may in any case represent a false economy, as cutting back on community-based nursing support for older people could actually increase the public sector bill as it may lead to more hospital admissions.
'It is key that local authorities and the NHS review each others' data in order to close the loop and ensure that adequate support is provided for older people,' she said.
'Vulnerable people are already not receiving the help they need'
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, described the spending cuts highlighted in the report as 'shocking'.
And he believes they are all the more shocking as they come at a time when many vulnerable people are already not receiving the help they need.
'We want people to get the care they need in the community so they can stay at home for as long as they want,' he continued.
'Avoidable hospital visits'
He said the Care Quality Commission market report also shows that in many cases older people are ending up in hospital with conditions that could have been resolved through earlier intervention.
Dr Carter echoed Ms Aldred's suggestion that it is a false economy to cut back on community-based nursing services because it results in patients experiencing more complications which require avoidable hospital visits.
'Local authorities need to reflect this in their budgeting decisions, and central government must make their pledge to protect the health service a reality,' he said.
Copyright Press Association 2013