• Two-thirds of councils reduced average daily DTOCs by September
  • But 91 councils failed to meet government targets
  • Call for long term social care funding solution in the budget

The majority of councils have managed to reduce delayed transfers of care over the first half of 2017-18 but have still failed to meet government targets aimed at reducing pressure on hospitals, analysis of figures released on Thursday shows.

In July, the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Department of Health set “expectations” of councils for their performance on DTOCs by a September, using a baseline of their performance in February. Failure to meet the targets could result in loss of better care fund cash in 2018-19.

Local Government Chronicle’s analysis of NHS England data for September shows almost two-thirds – 92 out of 151 – councils have reduced average daily transfers over the review period, with 27 cutting average daily rates by more than half.

Nationally, DTOCs attributed solely to adult social care fell by 1 per cent in September compared to the previous month.

However, 91 councils failed to meet the reduction targets set by government, with seven councils seeing their delayed transfers more than double during the review period.

Figures for Wirral show an increase from an average daily delayed transfer rate of one in February to 14 in September, while the rate for Harrow rose from three to 15. The others were York, Calderdale, Gloucestershire, Camden and Lambeth.

The target imposed on Hampshire required it to reduce delayed transfers by 66 per cent. However, the figures show delayed transfers in the county increased by a quarter between February and September.

This meant Hampshire missed the target by a daily average of 112 delayed transfers, the largest gap of any council.

Northamptonshire was set a target of reducing delayed transfers by 67 per cent, but the number increased since February from 51 to 85 – a rise of 67 per cent.

However, some councils exceeded their required reductions. Lincolnshire surpassed its target by nine average daily delayed transfers, the highest figure for any council, followed by Derbyshire (six) and Southwark (five).

In July, the Local Government Association withdrew its support for better care fund planning guidance for 2017-19, which said councils must use their allocations to meet DTOCs targets or risk losing funding.

A total of 18 councils have been placed in a better care fund “escalation” process due to government concerns over their performance on reducing delayed transfers of care.

Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said councils had reduced delayed transfers by 7.2 per cent since July, compared to a 3.4 per cent reduction by the NHS during the same period.

She added: “It is vital that government and NHS England work with councils to make sure we all make the best use of our scarce resources.

“But we are clear that social care needs a long term sustainable funding solution and we are calling on the chancellor to set out how government will plug the annual £2.3bn funding gap by the end of the decade in the forthcoming autumn budget.”

President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Margaret Willcox described the latest figures as a “fantastic achievement”.

She said: “Councils remain focused on prioritising discharge from hospital as well as preventing admission to hospital in the first place.

“Adult social care needs to be treated as a national priority and given at least equal funding prominence to that of the NHS as both services are interdependent.”