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Hospitals and social care services will have to slash at least £26bn from their budgets to keep inside public funding constraints set by the Government.
This is the key finding from BMA News analysis of all of the 44 English NHS plans, released late last year, after months hidden from public view.
Analysis of these STPs (sustainability and transformation plans) found the NHS faces a budgetary black hole of £21bn and that English councils must cut at least £5bn from social care services.
The figure for local authorities is likely to be much higher, as almost a third of STPs did not factor in shortfalls in social care funding.
So-called STPs aim to chart a path to more seamless health and social care services.
But the BMA analysis found fresh evidence of deep financial problems in social care across large swathes of England.
In some areas, financial deficits almost match those facing the NHS. For instance, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent’s STP predicts a £256m shortfall in social care, just shy of the £286m black hole in its NHS services.
‘Cut to the bone’
As might be expected, hospitals in STP areas with big social care deficits include those that most struggle to find social care for patients.
Almost half the time that patients were stuck in hospitals in Staffordshire was owing to struggles to secure social care, according to the latest NHS England figures, collected from trusts in October.
Revealed by our analysis, BMA council chair Mark Porter says STPs’ ambition to modernise and pull the NHS out of the red is threatened by the extent of social care shortages.
‘Social care has been cut to the bone but unlike health it is not a protected budget,’ he added.
‘Politicians from all sides need to come together to agree a long-term solution to this growing problem.’
Full analysis will appear in a future BMA News.