Government allocates £200m for care workforce to support discharge

Karolina Gerlich, CEO, Care Workers' Charity

Local authorities will receive 40% of a £500m hospital discharge funding pot to help bolster the social care workforce over winter.

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said the majority – £300m – would be given to integrated care boards (ICBs) to improve bed capacity. Allocations and payments will be made in the coming weeks, with a second tranche of funds handed out in January.

‘In line with our devolved and data-driven approach we will be allowing local areas to determine how we can speed up the discharge of patients from hospital,’ said Barclay while addressing the NHS Providers’ annual conference yesterday (16 November).

‘This might be through purchasing supportive technology boosting domiciliary care capacity or physiotherapists and occupational therapists to support recovery at home.’

Councils and boards will be tasked with introducing solutions to speed up discharge in their areas.

They will be free to spend money on initiatives that will have the greatest impact, with most areas expected to prioritise homecare. Funding may also be used to boost adult social care workforce capacity, through staff recruitment and retention, where that will help reduce delayed discharges.

However, Care Workers’ Charity chief executive Karolina Gerlich is concerned about funding provided to ICBs, which she said was ‘so far are failing to incorporate strong representation from adult social care.’

She added: ‘We are not aware of any similar plans from the secretary of state to address the social care workforce ahead of what will be a very challenging winter, as the sector deals with record high job vacancies, staff shortages and increased demand for social care.

‘Unfortunately, this health-focused statement only reinforces what frontline care workers already know – that the government cares more about headline-grabbing fixes in the NHS than social care reform.’