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The social care funding gap: implications for local health care reform

Briefing

The financial pressures being experienced by the NHS in England are severe and mounting. More than half of NHS trusts are in the red and NHS providers are forecasting a total overspend of £873m* for 2016/17. For the public, the collision of rising need and stagnating funding is now clearly visible in overloaded emergency departments, cancelled operations and longer waits for treatment across England.

As NHS hospitals and other providers grapple with the challenge of keeping front-line services running, the government is hoping that Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) – local reform plans designed by the leaders of hospitals, local authorities and other NHS bodies – will create a less turbulent and more sustainable path for health and care services in the future. The 44 STPs are moving towards implementation across England and are designed to restore financial balance to the NHS at the same time as improving care. The plans contain ambitious proposals to improve services, including prevention of ill health, more care closer to people’s homes and more efficient use of hospital services.

Central to these plans is the idea that local health and social care organisations think collaboratively about their budgets and the services they offer to their populations. But there is an imbalance at the heart of the STPs: the scale and impact of the cuts to social care services, particularly for older people.
This briefing offers an analysis of the size of the gap in social care funding through the lens of the STPs, and sets out the implications of this for health and care reform plans if the social care funding gap is not adequately filled.