Concerns about whether the promised funding of intermediate care, outlined in the NHS plan, will be realised have been heightened by figures showing that around a third of this year’s allocation has been spent elsewhere.
Confidential briefing papers seen by HSJ reveal that around£50m of the promised£150m allocation for intermediate care for the current financial year has gone to other services.
The papers say ‘there was an expectation that£150m would be invested in intermediate care’.
But, they go on to say, ‘Returns from regional offices indicate that over£100m has been invested additionally in intermediate care’.
A Department of Health spokesperson acknowledged that ‘not all of the£150m made available this year for intermediate care has been spent on these services’, and that ‘some of the£150m has been spent on other priorities’.
The revelation of current underfunding has come on top of worries about siphoning off funding into other areas by social services, which have been allocated the bulk of the money.
Local Government Association head of social affairs John Ransford said councils were currently£205m overspent, the main reason being increased spending on children’s services.
NHS Confederation policy director Nigel Edwards said the confederation had been told by a number of finance directors that the financial squeeze in social services was so acute in some areas that the health service is bailing them out. He claimed that ‘a number of finance directors said they have passed money to social services’ and that the sums involved were ‘upwards of£750,000’.
Liberal democrat health spokesman Paul Burstow, who has been seeking information on what has happened to intermediate care funding, said: ‘The plan is not on target for what had been indicated we would get. It is highly questionable that it will be delivered at all.’