Lord Lansley Outlines Social Care Malaise

A former health secretary has asserted that an “incredibly difficult” two years await the NHS and social care in England.

Lord Lansley, health secretary from 2010-12, said he was disappointed that more funding was not announced in the Autumn Statement.

Tory council leader Izzi Seccombe said funding was needed now and councils had been “cut to the bone”.

But Prime Minister Theresa May commented that ministers are already working to ease the situation.

Funding cuts to council-run social care in England have been blamed for a big increase in patients stuck in hospital beds because care cannot be arranged elsewhere.

Yet the chancellor did not specifically offer new resources either for the NHS or social care when outlining the Treasury’s plans on Wednesday, only confirming that ministers would be sticking with departmental spending announced last year.

However, Lansley has poured scorn on the assertions of the government.

“A substantial change in departmental expenditure was pretty unlikely. However, not being surprised doesn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed. The next two years are going to be incredibly difficult and I think the time is now for trying to put some measures in place to try and help health and social care through those next two years”.

Lansley also suggests that improving social care provision could help tackle many of the “underlying problems” of the NHS:

“I don’t think that necessarily demands a lot of extra public funds, what it does mean however is the implementation of the plan that we put together in the last Parliament from the Dilnot Commission.”

Commenting on the issue, Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged some of the concerns of critics.

“I recognise the concerns and challenges around social care. By the end of this parliament, the local authorities will have £3.5bn more to spend on social care and of course we’re putting more money into the health service as well. But we need to see the health service and social care working together that’s why the health secretary and the local communities secretary are appraised of the need for the challenges faced and are looking at this issue.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he had been “utterly astonished” there had been no a mention of the of the NHS or of social care in the Autumn Statement.

“There’s an NHS funding crisis and there’s a social care crisis in Britain. The solution has to be more money going in to it to pay for the services that are necessary and to reduce the level of bed blocking.”

The government has already required NHS trusts to make efficiency savings of £22 billion by the end of the decade.

 

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