Care 'could fuel NHS bed-blocking'

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The NHS faces a 'bed-blocking' crisis which could see half of wards being flooded with elderly people , a report warns

The NHS faces a “bed-blocking” crisis which could see half of wards being flooded with elderly people who should be in care homes, a report warns.

Figures estimate that if social care budgets are not ring-fenced, 81,000 care home beds will be lost over the next decade, leaving vulnerable people nowhere to go but hospital.

The pressure on the health service will be further compounded by the rapidly ageing population that will see an additional 18,000 older people needing care, the study warns.

This will leave 100,000 of the 170,000 NHS beds taken up by the elderly residents who should be in residential care, restricting the places to those who need them, according to the report by Bupa, the health insurance and care provider.

The study, entitled Who Cares? Funding Adult Social Care Over the Next Decade, urges the Government to ring-fence the £2 billion earmarked for adult social care so that councils do not use it to plug holes in other budgets. It also calls for councils to take into account care home inflation when setting budgets.

Mark Ellerby, managing director of Bupa Care Services, said: “Today’s report reveals that the scale of the problem is much bigger than we thought.

“Unless councils protect funding for the elderly, thousands of vulnerable, frail older people will be unable to get the care home places they need and will have no option but to go into hospital.

“Not only is this deeply concerning for them and their families, but it is also worrying for the already stretched NHS as it will create a bed blocking crisis which will affect us all.”

Baroness Greengross, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia and chief executive of ILC-UK, who supports Bupa’s view, added: “Council leaders across the country must make a public pledge to pass on in full the £2 billion allocated to them by the Government to fund adult social care and to take account of care home inflation when setting their fees.”

A Department of Health spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: “Most older people want to stay supported in their own homes for as long as possible and the extra money we have given councils will help them care for older people in the environment that’s best for them.”

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