Social care cuts could lead to higher NHS bills

Dying people could end up in hospital sooner – and so cost taxpayers more – if cuts to social care services continue.Social care cuts could lead to higher NHS billsBetter social care appears to reduce the need for hospital until the very latest stage among the dying, found the Nuffield Trust.

The Nuffield Trust, a think tank, has found that good social care tends to keep the terminally ill out of hospital until they really need it.

Their report looked at the usage that 73,000 people made of council social services and hospitals in the last months of their lives.

Dr Martin Bardsley, head of research at the Nuffield trust, said: “Our study suggests how social care might be effectively substituting for hospital care for this group of people.

“The worry is that if funding for social care is cut back, people may have no option but to use hospital care.  This may not be the best care for people who wish to be at home in their last months of life, as well as cost far more for the NHS.”

“Given the short- to medium-term financial climate, this type of analysis is critical now more than ever if more value for patients is to be extracted from public funds.”

The report, which looked at anonymised records from seven local authority areas in England, also found social care costs rose predictably in the last year or so of life, while hospital costs jump in the last three months.

The authors consequently argued that the Government would not be taking on too much financial risk by agreeing to fund social care above a certain threshold. Andrew Dilnot, the economist, has proposed that cap be set at £35,000.

Simon Chapman, from the National Council for Palliative Care, said the report provided “timely evidence that introducing free social care at the end of life would not carry significant economic risks”.


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