Impact of the social care crisis on GPs and A&Es

March 3, 2017

New research on the impact of the social care crisis on GPs shows that a lack of social care is piling pressure on surgeries and A&Es.

Almost 9 out of 10 GPs (89%) think reductions in social care are leading to extra pressures in their surgeries. Even more (93%) think that the lack of social care is leading to extra pressure on A&Es and contributing to increased delayed discharges from hospital.

Ahead of next week’s budget, the poll of over 1000 GPs, undertaken by Medeconnect on behalf of the Care and Support Alliance, reveals an overwhelming 92% of GPs think social care services are failing to give patients sufficient care. Age UK research says that currently at least 1.2 million older people and disabled people do not receive the care they need, a 48% increase since 2010. When people don’t get the basic care they need, they are more likely to fall into crisis and need more expensive medical attention.

Key findings of the Care and Support Alliance research include:

  • 9 out of 10 GPs (92%) are not confident that social care services currently provide a sufficient level of care for patients.
  • Almost 9 out of 10 GPs (89%) think reductions in social care have contributed to pressures in their surgeries and (93%) think this has led to increased pressures in A&E and contributed to an increase in delayed discharges from hospital.
  • GPs also think that things are going to get worse, with 8 out of 10 GPs (81%) thinking care services would worsen over the next two to three years.
  • Almost 9 out of 10 GPs (88%) think that due to cuts to social care there is less care than just two years ago.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (31%) GPs thought that 1% to 5% of appointments could have been avoided if better social care was in place, another 30% thought 5% to 10%, and more than 1 in 10 (12%) thought as many as 21% to 30%.

Vicky McDermott, Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said, 'Our social care system is letting people and their families down by denying them basic care such as help getting out of bed, getting out of the house or even having a fresh meal. More than a million people with difficult conditions are being denied the chance to live as well as they deserve.

'GPs are on the frontline, a witness to what happens when you take basic care away from people – it damages their health and means they need more expensive care from the NHS.

'Philip Hammond needs to use the budget to invest in social care. The Government needs to address the crisis in social care, which is resulting in the NHS picking up the tab and people not getting the care they need.'

The poll was commissioned by the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) – a coalition of more than 90 of the country’s leading charities – who are calling for a properly funded care system.

The coalition has warned that the Government’s attempts to increase funding into social care have been inadequate and 'a drop in the ocean' compared to what is needed. According to the ADASS budget survey, social care funding has fallen by £4.6bn, a third, over the last five years.

NHS data says that hospitals are experiencing record delayed discharge, with delays because of a lack of homecare increasing by 230% from August 2010 to December 2016. Last year, the NHS lost 650,000 bed days, costing the NHS up to £300m. NHS Chief Simon Stevens last year highlighted, 'The most immediate need is social care. If homecare disappears and care homes close, A&Es are quickly overwhelmed. We need creative solutions.'

Age UK says that one in eight over 65s has some level of unmet need. Carers UK adds to that with research which has found, in the UK, around one in three people rely on, or have a close family member that relies on, the care system. Currently, carers provide care worth £132bn, the equivalent to the UK’s total healthcare annual spend and over 2 million people have already given up work to care.

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