Ministers are creating a £500m emergency fund to get thousands of healthy patients out of hospital as soon as possible in a bid to prevent NHS Overwhelmed this winter.
Therese Coffey, the new health minister, unveiled the move in the House of Commons on Thursday as part of her plans to tackle the growing crisis in the health service, particularly the long delays for patients to get care.
The newly created Adult Social Care Discharge Fund aims to relieve the pressure on overstretched hospitals in England by ensuring that patients who have been judged well enough by doctors are discharged safely either to their homes or to a care home.
Currently more than 13,000 of the 100,000 NHS general and acute hospital beds are filled with ‘delayed discharge’ patients, resulting in disrupted A&E units and long delays in ambulance deliveries.
The £500m will go to care home operators and home care providers, which mainly help vulnerable elderly people living at home with tasks such as eating, getting dressed and getting out of bed.
In her first speech since becoming Health Secretary 16 days ago, Coffey told MPs: “I can announce today that we are launching a £500m Adult Social Welfare Fund for this winter.
The local NHS will work with councils with targeted plans on specific care packages to support people both in their homes and in the wider community. This £500m represents a down payment in rebalancing funding across health and social care as we develop our long-term plan.”
The Guardian revealed earlier in September that Kofi was considering plans to increase investment in welfare In order to free the hospital beds.
However, it is unclear whether the £500m is really new funding from the government or will it come from the NHS budget which is already under pressure due to the rising cost of energy and basic supplies, as well as having to find £1.8bn to fund 5 %. Paying a deal to NHS staff.
Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, claimed that Covey’s proposals, which he calls “our plan for the sick”, contain no action close to what is needed to address the many difficulties the NHS is facing.
Reminding MPs that Kofi is the third health minister in three months, Streeting said: “Faces are changing but the story remains the same. There is no plan yet that comes close to meeting the scale of the challenge; no staffing plan, no real plan for the NHS.”
He said the main weakness of her plan was the lack of proposals to address the chronic shortage of NHS staff. NHS vacancies in England have recently risen from 105,000 to 133,000.
“Patients are having to pay a serious price for years of chronic underfunding and broken Tory promises,” said Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokeswoman and deputy leader.