East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire calls for increased social care funding in the region

Hugo Swire

Hugo Swire - Credit: Archant

Concerns there will be ‘unacceptable loss of healthcare provision if hospital beds not compensated for’

East Devon’s MP called on the Government to increase social care funding in the region or risk an ‘unacceptable’ loss of healthcare provision.

Sir Hugo Swire spoke out in the House of Commons last week and raised concerns about plans to axe hospital beds without ensuring adequate measures for alternative care are in place.

He said proposals put forward by the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – which will see Sidmouth lose all of its inpatient beds – will only put the social care budget under increased strain.

Sir Hugo suggested that the only answer is an increase in the social care budget and called for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, to ‘seriously consider’ the matter before his Autumn Statement.

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In a letter to Mr Hammond, Sir Hugo wrote: ‘I am not against a reconfiguration of our local NHS per se.

“However, I am concerned that we are putting the cart before the horse. Before removing the hospital beds, we need to ensure that the social care provision which prevents people from needing those beds in the first place is sufficient.

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“As it stands at the moment, with council budgets for social care falling behind demand by £5billion nationally, I am concerned that the loss of hospital beds will not be compensated by the social care system, resulting in an overall and unacceptable loss of healthcare provision. This would be particularly damaging in East Devon, where 27.7 per cent of people are aged 65 or over compared to 17.7 per cent nationally.

‘In my opinion, the only answer to this complex issue is an increase in the social care budget which would not only be good for patients but, ultimately, reduce the pressure on the NHS budget.”

There was no mention of additional funding for social care in the Autumn Statement announced yesterday (Wednesday).

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