The County Council Budget is also, despite a small amount of transitional funding, very challenging.
Leicestershire County Council exists in a health and social care economy and shares responsibility with other public institutions We have all heard of the ambulances queuing for hours outside Leicester Hospitals as emergency admissions and readmissions continue to rise.
The LLR Systems Resilience Group, a joint body overseen by the Health and Wellbeing Board, has said “the majority of the work to reduce demand on acute hospital services must take place in the community”.
The County Council Budget reverses a policy of year on year “freezes”. While promising “very tight control over demand led budgets in children’s and adults’ social care” it increases your Council tax by the maximum 1.99% adding a further 2% social precept supposed to address the increased demographic demand from an ageing society.
Meanwhile an NHS Mental Health Task Force has published a review of the progress, or rather lack of it, since the Government promised “No Health Without Mental Health” in 2011. The Task Force tells us that ‘care must be integrated – spanning people’s physical, mental and social needs’ and that ‘prevention and early intervention must be prioritised’.
Instead we see a 6.2% cut to our Public Health Department and rising pressures on important components of mental health care including social care and housing related support
Locally, our Public Health Director is saving money by evidence based commissioning, integrating Sexual Health Services, protecting physical activity, working with communities to build capacity, modernising smoking cessation including plans forum integrated lifestyle service for hard to reach groups. These savings not being reinvested in sorting out the gaps between health and social care. They are going back to prop up a Government that has already failed to improve mental health and wellbeing.
At the clinical coal-face, GPs are already seeing social care cuts passing the financial and clinical risk to services such as East Midlands Ambulance & Leicestershire Hospitals who cannot say “No”. We are already seeing cost-cutting in residential care and rising numbers of admissions and readmissions to our overwhelmed hospitals. The County Council budget, while protecting one institution, is passing the risk to the NHS.
The situation is a mess and the real culprits are sitting in Westminster.