The government reportedly intends to stream an extra £240 million into social care services this winter to help alleviate pressures on the NHS.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to announce the emergency cash injection at the Conservative Party Conference later today (Tuesday).
The funds will be used to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and speed up hospital discharges where possible, according to various media reports.
“I want to help the NHS through this winter, too,” a draft of Hancock’s speech says, according to the Guardian. “I have already provided funding for hospitals to make upgrades to their buildings to deal with pressures this winter. And I can announce that today I am making an extra £240m available to pay for social care packages this winter to support our NHS.”
“We will use this money to get people who don’t need to be in hospital, but do need care, back home, back into their communities, so we can free up those vital hospital beds. And help people who really need it, get the hospital care they need.”
The new cash could be used by councils to buy 71,500 domestic care packages or 86,500 ‘reablement’ packages, although councils can also choose to spend the money on adapting homes to allow patients to return from hospital, according to reports.
But Sally Copley, director of Policy, Campaigns and Partnerships at Alzheimer's Society, said: “While it’s important that the Government has recognised that social care underfunding lies at the heart of our hospitals' winter pressures, the amount committed is a let down - less than 10% of what’s needed to fix the social care crisis. The social care system is ‘not just for Christmas’ and people with dementia, as its biggest recipients, are experiencing the emotional and economic cost all year round.”
She went on to note that the money “may stop some people with dementia spending Christmas stuck on a ward, but the limited and poor quality care available at home will mean they’re back in hospital before Easter.
“To actually turn the tide for people with dementia we need to see £2.5bn ringfenced in the upcoming budget - this will plug the current funding gap and give people with dementia the chance to access the good quality social care they have a right to.”