Figures released by NHS England on 10 January show that for November 2018, the latest figures available, Cumbria slipped from 149 to 151 of 151 local areas for delays in transferring patients to care.
The figures, which show the number of delayed days per 100,000 population, reveal Cumbria’s figure of 33.3 compared to the national rate of 12.4 for 2017-18. The figures also show that Cumbria is very wide of the target set by the Government for the region as part of their multi-million pound funding package for improving health and social care, the Better Care Fund.
In a report to the County Council’s Adults Scrutiny Committee last week (Thursday 17th January) the Council admits that it is responsible for the top two reasons for delaying the transfer of people to care in a timely manner. The top reason for delay being putting care packages in place at home and the second being social workers completing care assessments. The council is also partially responsible for the third most common reason, which is a lack of nursing home places some of which are provided by the council’s own Cumbria Care division.
Dr Stephen Haraldsen, County Councillor for Yewdale (Conservative) and the Shadow Cabinet Member for Health and Care said: “These figures are a shocking indictment of the administration at the County Council. Despite knowing the challenges of an older population for a long time, and receiving extra funding from Government through the Better Care Fund, the Council is not only failing to address the problems, but going in the wrong direction.
“Delays in transferring patients into care wastes money and puts patients at unnecessary risk.
“The Council urgently needs to get to grips with the recruitment of more teams to assess patients and get them into care. Further poor performance risks future government funding from the Better Care Fund.
“This tired Labour/LibDem administration, which lost the last county council election, is clinging on to office but aren’t in control. They are incapable of the fresh thinking so desperately needed to address the challenges faced in Cumbria today.”
A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “Cumbria County Council recognises the enormous challenge in Cumbria to reduce the number of delayed transfers of care from hospital settings. The council is committed to working in partnership with our colleagues in the NHS to improve discharge arrangements for Cumbrian residents.
“A number of robust initiatives described in the report, including the provision of ‘step down’ beds together with a recruitment drive to increase capacity across the county in the provision of Domiciliary Care and Re-ablement are now beginning to deliver improvements. Strategic partners across the health and care system recognise the improvements that have been achieved in the last 12 months.”
Cllr Patricia Bell, Cabinet Member for Health and Care said: ““I’m very proud of the ongoing work that is being done between the county council, NHS and other partners to address these challenges. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss Cllr Haraldsen’s concerns with him directly – he has yet to approach me to do so.”