Age Scotland calls for action on social care at Holyrood budget

Age Scotland, the national charity for older people is calling on the Scottish Government to use next month’s Budget to address shortcomings in social care as a matter of urgency.

There has been a 5 per cent rise in the number of people kept in hospital despite being medically fit enough to leave. Photograph: Getty images
There has been a 5 per cent rise in the number of people kept in hospital despite being medically fit enough to leave. Photograph: Getty images

On the back of last week’s delayed discharge figures, which show a rise of 5 per cent in the number of people being kept too long in hospital, the charity is asking politicians to take action on key points.

The charity is calling on the Budget to address three areas that it says will help vulnerable older people get the medical and social care they need.

It wants Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s budget on 6 February to include financial investment in struggling health and social care partnerships.

A widespread recruitment campaign to attract and retain high quality social care staff and a vow to reduce delayed discharges by making health and social care a top priority for 2020.

Age Scotland says it welcomes the investment the Scottish Government has already ploughed into health and social care, but it has not been enough to see any substantial improvement.

Adam Stachura, head of policy at Age Scotland, said: “The extent of the tremendous challenges facing social care delivery in Scotland is laid bare month after month, with the publication of stubbornly high delayed discharge figures.

“The latest statistics, which came out last week, showed a 5 per cent increase in the number of people being kept in hospital too long, despite being deemed medically fit enough to leave.

“Of the 1,485 people affected, almost 1,000 were over the age of 75.

“In the vast majority of cases – 76 per cent – the reasons behind their extended hospital stay were issues with appropriate social care availability. The Scottish Government has repeatedly promised to tackle delayed discharge through integrated health and social care partnerships but we have yet to see any evidence of progress.”

The charity points to Scotland’s population, which is ageing more rapidly than the rest of the UK, as a reason for ministers to find solutions to the complex challenges of delivering social care before the situation reaches “critical levels”.

Stachura added: “With the Scottish budget approaching, we are calling on MSPs to get to grips with a problem that is seriously harming older people’s health. In the future far greater numbers of older people could require access to social care. If there is not enough money and not enough staff to deliver it now, it is deeply worrying to think how it could be in just a few years’ time.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Responsibility for delivering quality social care which ensures people don’t spend any longer in hospital than needed relies on the joint work of local councils and the NHS – delivered through health and social care partnerships.

“That’s why we’re investing significantly in integration to ensure health and social care services are fully joined up for all patients. Our spending on this important investment will this year will exceed £700 million.”