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

The NHS Five Year Forward View – Summary

The NHS Five Year Forward View was published on 23 October 2014 and sets out a new shared vision for the future of the NHS based around the new models of care. It has been developed by the partner organisations that deliver and oversee health and care services including Care Quality Commission, Public Health England and NHS Improvement (previously Monitor and National Trust Development Authority).

Summary

  1. The NHS has dramatically improved over the past fifteen years. Cancer and cardiac outcomes are better; waits are shorter; patient satisfaction much higher. Progress has continued even during global recession and austerity thanks to protected funding and the commitment of NHS staff. But quality of care can be variable, preventable illness is widespread, health inequalities deep-rooted. Our patients’ needs are changing, new treatment options are emerging, and we face particular challenges in areas such as mental health, cancer and support for frail older patients. Service pressures are building.
  2. Fortunately there is now quite broad consensus on what a better future should be. This ‘Forward View’ sets out a clear direction for the NHS – showing why change is needed and what it will look like. Some of what is needed can be brought about by the NHS itself. Other actions require new  partnerships with local communities, local authorities and employers. Some critical decisions – for example on investment, on various public health measures, and on local service changes – will need explicit support from the next government.
  3. The first argument we make in this Forward View is that the future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS, and the economic prosperity of Britain all now depend on a radical upgradein prevention and public health. Twelve years ago Derek Wanless’ health review warned that unless the country took prevention seriously we would be faced with a sharply rising burden of avoidable illness. That warning has not been heeded – and the NHS is on the hook for the consequences.
  4. The NHS will therefore now back hard-hitting national action on obesity, smoking, alcohol and other major health risks. We will help develop and support new workplace incentives to promote employee health and cut sickness-related unemployment. And we will advocate for stronger public health-related powers for local government and elected mayors.
  5. Second, when people do need health services, patients will gain far greater control of their own care – including the option of shared budgets combining health and social care. The 1.4 million full time unpaid carers in England will get new support, and the NHS will become a better partner with voluntary organisations and local communities.
  6. Third, the NHS will take decisive steps to break down the barriers in how care is provided between family doctors and hospitals, between physical and mental health, between health and social care. The future will see far more care delivered locally but with some services in specialist centres, organised to support people with multiple health conditions, not just single diseases.
  7. England is too diverse for a ‘one size fits all’ care model to apply everywhere. But nor is the answer simply to let ‘a thousand flowers bloom’. Different local health communities will instead be supported by the NHS’ national leadership to choose from amongst a small number of radical new care delivery options, and then given the resources and support to implement them where that makes sense.
  8. One new option will permit groups of GPs to combine with nurses, other community health services, hospital specialists and perhaps mental health and social care to create integrated out-of-hospital care – the Multispecialty Community Provider. Early versions of these models are emerging in different parts of the country, but they generally do not yet employ hospital consultants, have admitting rights to hospital beds, run community hospitals or take delegated control of the NHS budget.
  9. A further new option will be the integrated hospital and primary care provider – Primary and Acute Care Systems – combining for the first time general practice and hospital services, similar to the Accountable Care Organisations now developing in other countries too.
  10. Across the NHS, urgent and emergency care services will be redesigned to integrate between A&E departments, GP out-of-hours services, urgent care centres, NHS 111, and ambulance services. Smaller hospitals will have new options to help them remain viable, including forming partnerships with other hospitals further afield, and partnering with specialist hospitals to provide more local services. Midwives will have new options to take charge of the maternity services they offer. The NHS will provide more support for frail older people living in care homes.
  11. The foundation of NHS care will remain list-based primary care. Given the pressures they are under, we need a ‘new deal’ for GPs. Over the next five years the NHS will invest more in primary care, while stabilising core funding for general practice nationally over the next two years. GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups will have the option of more control over the wider NHS budget, enabling a shift in investment from acute to primary and community services. The number of GPs in training needs to be increased as fast as possible, with new options to encourage retention.
  12. In order to support these changes, the national leadership of the NHS will need to act coherently together, and provide meaningful local flexibility in the way payment rules, regulatory requirements and other mechanisms are applied. We will back diverse solutions and local leadership, in place of the distraction of further national structural reorganisation. We will invest in new options for our workforce, and raise our game on health technology – radically improving patients’ experience of interacting with the NHS. We will improve the NHS’ ability to undertake research and apply innovation – including by developing new ‘test bed’ sites for worldwide innovators, and new ‘green field’ sites where completely new NHS services will be designed from scratch.
  13. In order to provide the comprehensive and high quality care the people of England clearly want, Monitor, NHS England and independent analysts have previously calculated that a combination of growing demand if met by no further annual efficiencies and flat real terms funding would produce a mismatch between resources and patient needs of nearly £30 billion a year by 2020/21. So to sustain a comprehensive high-quality NHS, action will be needed on all three fronts – demand, efficiency and funding. Less impact on any one of them will require compensating action on the other two.
  14. The NHS’ long run performance has been efficiency of 0.8% annually, but nearer to 1.5%-2% in recent years. For the NHS repeatedly to achieve an extra 2% net efficiency/demand saving across its whole funding base each year for the rest of the decade would represent a strong performance – compared with the NHS’ own past, compared with the wider UK economy, and with other countries’ health systems. We believe it is possible – perhaps rising to as high as 3% by the end of the period – provided we take action on prevention, invest in new care models, sustain social care services, and over time see a bigger share of the efficiency coming from wider system improvements.
  15. On funding scenarios, flat real terms NHS spending overall would represent a continuation of current budget protection. Flat real terms NHS spending per person would take account of population growth. Flat NHS spending as a share of GDP would differ from the long term trend in which health spending in industrialised countries tends to rise as a share of national income.
  16. Depending on the combined efficiency and funding option pursued, the effect is to close the £30 billion gap by one third, one half, or all the way. Delivering on the transformational changes set out in this Forward View and the resulting annual efficiencies could – if matched by staged funding increases as the economy allows – close the £30 billion gap by 2020/21. Decisions on these options will be for the next Parliament and government, and will need to be updated and adjusted over the course of the five year period. However nothing in the analysis above suggests that continuing with a comprehensive taxfunded NHS is intrinsically un-doable. Instead it suggests that there are viable options for sustaining and improving the NHS over the next five years, provided that the NHS does its part, allied with the support of government, and of our other partners, both national and local.

“It suggests there are winners and losers using NHS services. We can only hope the new models of care makes more winners”