By Max Clarke
Following a successful efficiency drive, the Department of Health is able to make an extra £162 million available to local health and care services to spend this financial year on front line services, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced today.
The extra money will be spent on helping people to leave hospital more quickly, get settled back at home with the support they need, and to prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital.
The funding will bring forward the plans being put in place by health and local authorities to work together using NHS funding to support social care, as announced in the spending review. It will also enable local services to respond to pressures this winter.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
"Savings have been made in the Department of Health’s budget which can now be invested in frontline NHS services.
"It’s really important, particularly at this time of year, that we help people to leave hospital as quickly as they can, when they are ready. The latest figures show that 2,575 beds are unavailable due to delayed transfers of care.
"Older people often need particular support after a spell in hospital to settle back into their homes, recover their strength and regain their independence. This money will enable the NHS and social care to work better together for the benefit of patients.
"This additional investment for health and care services is the result of determination to deliver savings, maintain quality and invest in services that matter to patients and their families and carers during the critical winter season."
The money will be allocated to Primary Care Trusts, for them to transfer to councils to spend on social care support. Primary Care Trusts and local authorities will decide how best to use the additional funding to make the greatest impact on relieving additional pressures on hospitals over the winter period.
Examples of the kinds of services that could be invested in are:
* additional short-term residential care places, or respite and intermediate care;
* more capacity for home care support, investment in equipment, adaptations and telecare;
* investment in crisis response teams and other preventative services to avoid unnecessary admission to hospital; and
* further investment in reablement and rehabilitation services, to help people regain their independence and reduce the
* need for ongoing care. PCTs and councils have already received additional funding this year to expand reablement services.
There will be further long-term investment in occupational therapists, who are vital to reablement and rehabilitation services, and homecare equipment services which support people to live at home independently.
The extra £162 million funding is in addition to the previously announced £70 million that the NHS will spend this year on reablement services, and there will be a further provision of £300 million by 2014-15 for continued investment in these vital front line services.
The Department has made efficiency savings by applying the controls over central spending on consultancy, IT, administration and advertising common across all of Government.
Care Services Minster Paul Burstow said:
"By reinvesting these NHS savings in social care we can offer more help more support to older people leaving hospital. This investment will also help to kickstart the collaborative working between the NHS and Councils at the heart of our reforms.
"It is absolutely crucial that the NHS and local authorities work together to help people leave hospital when they are ready. The benefits are on all sides - patients get to go home with the support they and their families need, and hospital beds are freed up.
"This money will help cut the delays in getting the equipment and adaptations that people can need to enable them to live independently at home - saving them from an unnecessary stay in hospital or going into residential care."
The NHS is already planning on spending an additional £800 million from April on support to social care that benefits health. This was part of the package of measures in the Spending Review to provide an additional £2 billion for social care, in recognition of the importance of these services to hundreds of thousands of families.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK, said:
"The news that extra money will be made available to help support people when leaving hospital is very welcome. People in later life often need additional support when leaving hospital to ensure their recovery is quick and they do not suffer setbacks which can lead to readmission.
"With three quarters of NHS patients aged 65 or over, it is more important than ever that older patients receive the necessary care and support they need to help increase their rate of recovery and minimise the rate of readmission which has increased 69 per cent since 1998/1999 to 2006/2007."