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Plans for social care funding escalated

Plans to safeguard funding for health and social care services for some of Staffordshire’s most frail and vulnerable residents are to be escalated – after NHS England indicated money for the county council and the NHS could be withheld.

Staffordshire County Council had been earmarked £19.5m this year for social care services in support of health as part of the national Better Care Fund (BCF), which aims to support more people in their homes and in their communities, rather than in hospitals.

Staffordshire’s BCF plan has been agreed locally and recommended for approval by regional and national assurance panels. However NHS England has not approved the plan as the council was unable to meet unachievable targets set at extremely short notice to reduce the delays in moving people out of hospital.

Although the council has  managed to reduce these delays to practically zero in the North of the County, there was insufficient time to safely replicate this across the county.

Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:

As a county council we spend a record £300m on health and social care this year and the money from the BCF is vital to support the most vulnerable in our communities at home this winter. If the money is withheld we, like other authorities in the same position, have made it clear that there could be a profound impact on health and social care and actually increase the pressure on the NHS.”

The BCF decision has now been escalated by NHS England and a further meeting with the county council and the Clinical Commissioning Groups is to take place.

Alan White, Staffordshire County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, said:

We remain committed to working with the local NHS to achieve targets set by NHS England and we will continue to work with CCGs to try and ensure that essential services can be funded.”

The county council is also looking at contingency plans examine at how the £19.5m shortfall could be met if the BCF funding is not resolved. The issues will be raised at Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet on October 18.