Bupa warns that if councils' adult social care budgets are not ring-fenced, the UK risks a shortfall of nearly 100,000 care home beds over the next decade. This reduction will lead to a bed-blocking crisis for the NHS, and a postcode lottery for aged care as shortages emerge across the country.
A new report from Bupa reveals that real-term spending cuts to care will reduce the number of care home beds by 81,000 over the coming decade. At the same time our ageing population is likely to see an additional 18,000 older people needing care. These two factors could result in almost 100,000 older people being left at home or admitted to hospitals - potentially occupying half of the NHS's beds.
As local council budgets are being set across the country, Bupa is calling for the £2bn the government ear-marked for adult social care to be ring-fenced and spent on the purpose for which it was intended - caring for frail, older people and to take into account care home inflation. There is real concern that hard-pressed councils may direct the money to plug holes in other budgets.
Mark Ellerby of Bupa says, “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."
The report, ‘Who Cares?' Funding Adult Social Care Over the Next Decade', lays bare the realities of the impact continuing under-funding of care home places will have on the wider health sector; care home beds will go as providers with large debts fail, fewer new care homes will be built and less will be spent on maintaining existing homes.
Long term care news: 2 March 2011