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£1bn funding gap threatens NHS - Kings Fund

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NHS resources will be squeezed by a £1 billion gap in social care funding, according to a new report.

The health service will come under increasing pressure from people whose needs are not met by local authority services, it said.

The King’s Fund think-tank warned that local authority social care services face a funding gap in excess of at least £1.2 billion by 2014/15.

This is despite the extra money pledged for social care in the government’s comprehensive spending review.

In the review ministers announced that social care would receive an extra £1 billion a year from NHS funds as part of an overall £2 billion of extra funding every year by 2014/15.

But this was set against a backdrop of 26% cuts in central government funding to local councils over four years.

The NHS has also been tasked with finding £15 to £20 billion in annual efficiency savings over the next few years.

The report calls for one single national settlement for health and social care.

It said: “Mounting demands on care budgets has led the government to identify additional resources in the spending review and to commission an independent review to recommend a more sustainable way of funding care for the future.

“But a tough spending settlement for local government suggests that a funding gap of at least £1.2 billion could open up by 2014 unless all councils can achieve unprecedented efficiency savings.

“The consequences are that even fewer people will receive the care and support they need.

“This will have knock-on effects for people needing NHS care as there will be more emergency admissions to hospital, delayed discharges and longer waits for treatment.”

Richard Humphries, the report’s author, said: “Without action, fewer people will receive the care and support they need with knock-on effects on those unable to access NHS care.”

Care services minister, Paul Burstow, said: “We do not recognise the King’s Fund’s figures - they ignore the fact that local authorities will be making significant efficiency savings in social care.

“As the King’s Fund themselves acknowledge, when efficiency is taken into account, there is no funding gap.”

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