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10 December 2012
• More than three quarters of councillors whose local authority has cut preventative and low-level social care admit they are worried about the impact on the elderly and vulnerable
• New research shows cuts to preventative care are a false economy and could cost taxpayers' millions of pounds
Local authority cuts to preventative care are leaving elderly and vulnerable people in their area at risk, a ComRes poll for the British Red Cross has revealed.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of councillors questioned said that their local authority had cut or frozen funding for preventative and lower-level social care since the last local election.
And where cuts – of an average of 16% – had taken place, 76% of councillors admitted this left them worried about the elderly and vulnerable in their local area. Sixty-nine percent of councillors who've experienced cuts said that people in need will not receive the care they need.
The findings echo a new report for the Red Cross produced by Deloitte, the business advisory firm which concluded that preventative support services – such as home from hospital schemes, and care in the home – save taxpayers millions of pounds in reduced health costs, as well as providing vital support to people in their own communities.
The analysis looked at six different British Red Cross schemes, and found on average they offered a return on investment of 149% for commissioners – sometimes up to 280% - by preventing hospital stays, reducing levels of readmission, and minimising the need for expensive residential care.
Deloitte estimated that across England and Wales the British Red Cross's services alone had the potential to save the NHS and social care up to £8million. The British Red Cross has 30 years of experience running health and social care services and reaches 400,000 people each year.
Sir Nick Young, chief executive of the British Red Cross said:“The right support at the right time can transform people's lives by giving them the independence to enjoy life in their own home.
“Investing in preventative care also means millions of pounds will eventually be saved as fewer people need intensive and expensive support.
“Cutting vital services is not only bad for elderly and vulnerable people, but bad economics. We know councils are facing pressures on their budgets, but we urge them to rethink short-term cuts and spending freezes which could actually leave them worse off financially.”
Retired jazz musician Colin Watson, from London, received low-level care from the Red Cross when he was released from hospital this year following treatment for bowel cancer.
When the 69-year-old, who lives alone, found himself unable to cope, the red cross helped him with shopping, cooking and household chores for six weeks. Mr Watson said: “I was really struggling when I got home, I couldn't walk properly and actually had to be carried up the stairs to get into my flat when I was discharged.
“I didn't know what I was going to do. I had to have a special diet after my operation but no way to prepare the meals which were vital to me making a recovery.
“The Red Cross came in and were amazing – without their support, I am certain I would have ended up back in hospital.”
The British Red Cross has welcomed the Government's commitment to putting prevention at the heart of social care reform, but warns that more must be done to make this commitment a reality. The Red Cross believes that in the face of unprecedented pressures on local authority budgets, ring-fenced funds must be allocated for preventative services to ensure that individuals get the right support at the right time, and the cost savings set out in this report are realised.
The ComRes poll for the British Red Cross shows:
• 64% of councillors think funding for preventative care has been cut or has stayed the same in their local authority area.
• Where there are cuts the average estimated reduction in spending is 16%.
• Three quarters (76%) of councillors whose councils have cut funding agree that this has left elderly and vulnerable residents in their area at greater risk.
• 76% of those councillors whose local authority has cut preventative care are worried about the elderly and vulnerable in their area, while 75% say that it frustrates them as a councillor.
• Only 10% of councillors think that the elderly and vulnerable people who need preventative or lower-level social care in their council area will be better off in 2013, while nearly half (48%) think that they will be worse off.
• Deloitte found that when home-based practical and emotional support is offered it gives the NHS and local councils a return on investment of up to 280%.
Chris Williams, Economic Consulting Partner at Deloitte, said:“The health and social care reforms across the UK are being conducted in an environment where the system is experiencing increased cost pressure. Preventative care and early intervention schemes are gaining greater prominence, with an increasing need for the schemes to provide a strong return on investment. Our study shows that 'Care in the Home' services currently supplied by the British Red Cross provide a return of 149% to health and social care commissioners, and help patients to return home from hospital more quickly.”