1bn raid on NHS could pay for more community careComes amid fears that A&E departments are being flooded by patients who could be cared for at home
22:49 GMT, 26 April 2013
09:06 GMT, 27 April 2013
'title': '1bn raid on NHS could pay for more community care',
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Ministers plan to use 1billion of the NHS budget to pay for social care – effectively tearing up the Coalition’s pledge to ringfence Health Service spending.
The move comes amid fears hospital accident and emergency departments are being flooded by patients who could be cared for at home.
Despite a promise to protect the NHS from the 11.5billion cuts the Treasury has ordered for 2015/16, the proposals could see more than 1billion funnelled from the Department of Health to local authorities.
A&E waiting times have risen and needy patients have been left on hospital trolleys
Ministers will argue that pouring NHS funds into community care will enable some elderly patients and those with chronic conditions to be treated outside hospital, reducing pressure on overstretched A&E units – which will in turn save the NHS money.
But removing money from the NHS will prove highly controversial, since the Prime Minister was boasting earlier this week that the Coalition is spending more on health.
With the NHS already having to save 20billion for the four-year period of the spending review, critics will argue that other services could suffer.
Proposals could see more than 1billion funnelled from the Department of Health to local authorities
Town hall chiefs have reduced dramatically their funding of social care as a result of budget cuts, leaving people with long-running health conditions to seek help in hospitals instead.
A&E waiting times have risen and needy patients have been left on hospital trolleys because of ‘bed-blocking’ by those who should be treated at home.
Last year nearly 900,000 waited longer than four hours and recent reports suggest some patients wait up to 12 hours to be seen.
A source said the plan was a ‘win-win’ because ‘if you look after people outside hospital you relieve the pressure on Health Service budgets’.
Non-ringfenced departments have been ordered to find cuts of around 10 per cent in their 2015/16 budgets.
Plans will be submitted on Monday to the Treasury, with the final deal announced in June.