NHS bed-blocking numbers show a social care sector in need of support

Two stories caught our eyes over the weekend; the first shows that so-called ‘bed-blocking’, where an NHS hospital is unable to discharge a patient back into the community because of a lack of social care provision, is at its highest rate since 2017.

The second says that funding cuts to the social care sector are leading to two care homes closing for every one that opens, leading to the risk of a two-tier social care system which only the rich can afford.

Clearly, these two stories are linked and are affecting both the NHS, the social care sector and the people that rely on both.

We have written in the past calling upon the Government to do everything that it can to ensure that the NHS is properly funded and is receiving all the support it needs. Given the clear affect that an under-funded social care sector is having on the NHS, we would extend this appeal to also include the social care sector as well.

Everyone in society can need more support as they get older, not just the rich. In fact, multiple studies have shown the disparities that exist in terms of life expectancy between those in the least and most deprived areas of the country. Therefore, it is vital that we have a robust social care sector in place that both rich and poor can access.

By ensuring a robust social care system is in place, it would also help to alleviate the pressure on the NHS, freeing up beds for those who sorely need inpatient care.

While we understand that there isn’t an endless pot of money to fund the NHS and the social care sector, by investing money into both systems now when it needs it, we would argue it would hopefully help to prevent a situation where even greater sums of money will need to be invested to overhaul the systems at a later date.