Government defends social care funding after doctors call for more investment


Cuts to funding in social care are putting patients' well-being at risk, a group of doctors' leaders have said.

The representatives of royal medical colleges and societies have said that a lack of social care is keeping people in hospital who could be discharged and blocking beds for needy new patients in the process.

In an open letter to the Chancellor, seen by the BBC, they are calling for more investment ahead of next week's Budget.

The 14 signatories to the letter are led by Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

They insist that social care and health care are "two sides of the same coin" and investment is "vital to the success of the NHS", saying the current plans are not good enough.

The Government said that is is giving local authorities access to up to £3.5bn of new support for adult social care by 2019/20.

Patients who could go home are unable to leave hospital - where they are more likely to pick up an infection or suffer a fall - as the support outside is not not suitable, the doctors' leaders said.

The consequence - a lack of beds for new patients - leads "to cancelled appointments and operations".

"This impacts on our ability to provide timely treatment and meet treatment targets, risking patient wellbeing, and is ultimately detrimental to the economy through delayed returns to work," they wrote.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "It's essential that older and vulnerable people get the high quality care they deserve.

"That's why we have given local authorities access to up to £3.5bn to spend on social care and councils will have almost £200 billion to spend on local services over the lifetime of this parliament."