NHS Providers has urged councils and NHS leaders to agree targets for short term reductions in hospital bed days, after the announcement of £1.2bn extra in social care funding for 2017-18.

The umbrella body representing NHS trusts welcomed the extra money announced in Wednesday’s budget - but warned its members to start negotiating with local government partners now on how it would be spent.

The news comes after a very senior NHS source warned that NHS organisations would have to be “lippy” in order to get value out of the money going to councils. Ensuring the funding leads to reductions in hospital bed use is central to NHS national leaders plans for improving performance in the next financial year, in particular next winter.

The money is essential for the NHS to “keep its head above the water” in 2017-18, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said.

He told HSJ: ”We welcome the extra £1.2bn funding for social care in 2017-18. But we must ensure that as much of that money as possible supports the NHS as well. We have written to our members today to suggest that they immediately start discussions with their local authority counterparts on how the extra money will be spent.

“We are suggesting they try to agree a specific, target, number of freed up bed-days from reduced delayed transfers of care. We need concrete, measurable, commitments whose delivery can then be monitored.”

HSJ understands a breakdown of how the funding will be allocated to each local authority shows significant differences.

The budget announcement follows years of cuts to local authority budgets and there is concern in NHS circles that the controls on how the money is spent in 2018-19 could come too late.

The NHS was told last week to meet the 95 per cent A&E four hour waiting target by next March.