Lack of social care is piling pressure on surgeries and A&Es

20th March 2017

Almost 9 out of 10 GPs (89%) think reductions in social care are leading to extra pressures in their surgeries. Even more (93%) think that the lack of social care is leading to extra pressure on A&Es and contributing to increased delayed discharges from hospital.

Ahead of next week’s budget, the poll of over 1000 GPs reveals an overwhelming 92% of GPs think social care services are failing to give patients sufficient care. Currently at least 1.2 million older people and disabled people (1) do not receive the care they need, a 48% increase since 2010. When people don’t get the basic care they need, they are more likely to fall into crisis and need more expensive medical attention.care servicesKey findings include:

  • 9 out 10 GPs (92%) are not confident that social care services currently provide a sufficient level of care for patients.
  • Almost 9 out 10 of GPs (89%) think reductions in social care have contributed to pressures in their surgeries and (93%) think this has led to increased pressures in A&E and contributed to an increase in delayed discharges from hospital.
  • GPs also think that things are going to get worse, with 8 out of 10 GPs (81%) thinking care services would worsen over the next two to three years.
  • Almost 9 out 10 GPs (88%) think that due to cuts to social care there is less care than just two years ago
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (31%) GPs thought that 1 – 5% of appointments could have been avoided if better social care was in place, another 30% thought 5 – 10%, and more than 1 in 10 (12%) thought as many as 21 – 30%.

Vicky McDermott, Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said:

“Our social care system is letting people and their families down by denying them basic care such as help getting out of bed, getting out of the house or even having a fresh meal. More than a million people with difficult conditions are being denied the chance to live as well as they deserve.

“GPs are on the front line, a witness to what happens when you take basic care away from people – it damages their health and means they need more expensive care from the NHS.

“Philip Hammond needs to use the budget to invest in social care. The Government needs to address the crisis in social care, which is resulting in the NHS picking up the tab and people not getting the care they need.”

The poll was commissioned by the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) – a coalition of more than 90 of the country’s leading charities – who are calling for a properly funded care system.

The coalition has warned that the Government’s attempts to increase funding into social care have been being inadequate and “a drop in the ocean” compared to what is needed. Social care funding has fallen by £4.6 billion, a third, over the last 5 years (2).

Hospitals are experiencing record delayed discharge, with delays because of a lack of home care increasing by 230 per cent from August 2010 to Dec 2016. Last year the NHS lost 650,000 bed days (3), costing the NHS up to £300 million (4). NHS Chief Simon Stevens last year highlighted: “The most immediate need is social care. If home care disappears and care homes close, A&Es are quickly overwhelmed. We need creative solutions.”

One in eight over 65s has some level of unmet need (5). In the UK, around one in three people rely on, or have a close family member that relies on, the care system (6). Currently carers provide care worth £132bn, the equivalent to the UK’s total health care annual spend (7) and over 2 million people have already given up work to care.

Social care user Rachel Looby, 34, from Harrogate, needed medical help after her hours were cut. She said:

“When my hours were cut it was a stressful time for me. I took the wrong medication and ended up in hospital, and this made me feel like my health had not been considered at all. Being in hospital left me feeling anxious and upset and I worried if something else might happen once I got home.”

Dr Jon Orrell, a practising GP from Dorset, added:

“As a GP for 30 years I have never before seen patients being let down by social care services as they are now. I see patients who are unable to feed themselves or cook being bounced back to the NHS to get food supplement cartons to drink alone, instead of real meals.

“Recently I had a case of a son who had been caring for his mother and despite being granted respite breaks he never received it because funding was cut. Eventually,he became exhausted and his mum had to go to hospital. I regularly see the false economy of cutting social care, people only end up needing more help because basic care wasn’t there in the first place.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Colleagues right across health and social care are currently struggling to meet growing patient demand, with scarce financial and workforce resources – and it is our patients who are suffering the consequences.

“When social care is not properly resourced, it undoubtedly has a knock-on effect on GPs and our teams, as well as our colleagues working in hospitals. We must start seeing good healthcare as a tripod, with robust general practice, hospital and social care services as three linked elements; all must be appropriately resourced, and all working together in harmony, for us to provide care that is in the best interests of patients.

“We hope these figures encourage the Government to review funding for the whole of health and social care – and to implement the pledges made in NHS England’s GP Forward View, including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more full time equivalent GPs by 2020 – so that we can all deliver the care our patients need and deserve.”

Personal story of how social care cuts led to need for NHS care:

Rachel’s Story 

Rachel, 34, from Harrogate is visually impaired, has dyspraxia and autism.

For a long time Rachel received 17 hours support a week. This involved help with basic tasks such, as cleaning and cooking, as well as help with managing her money, medication and personal care.

However her support was reduced to just five hours per week. This meant she only had help with basic tasks. With no one to help her manage her medication Rachel missed doses and had a seizure. To make things worse, while recovering Rachel mistook her dog’s flea medication for her own and became very ill for which she had to be hospitalised.

These two incidents, understandably, knocked her confidence, and she became demotivated and stopped taking her anti-depressant medication. This led to her becoming depressed and socially isolated.

For more information or interviews please contact either

Mel Merritt – Care and Support Alliance 

020 7923 5770 /mel.merritt@csa.org.uk

Warren Kirwan – Scope 

020 7619 7702/  warren.kirwan@scope.org.uk

The polling

Medeconnect polled 1006 regionally representative GPs between 14th and 23rd February 2017. 

Notes to Editors

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