Social care war as NHS fines 22 councils for bed blocking
Reported in The Times (16 July 2017): One in six councils in England have been fined by the NHS for bed-blocking as the health service and local government go to war over social care funding. The NHS has fined at least 22 councils for causing delays in discharging patients and threatened 11 others with charges. The news will fuel tensions between local government and the health service, which have been pitted against each other in the battle to close a £22bn hole in health funding. Earlier this month, council leaders hit out at “last-minute plans” to further penalise authorities that fail to reduce bed-blocking. Under proposals from Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, councils that underperform in helping NHS patients go home could have their share of a £2bn social care fund — announced in April’s budget — withheld. Last night, Izzi Seccombe, a Tory council leader who speaks on community wellbeing for the Local Government Association, said creating divisions could “exacerbate the social care crisis”.