Inadequate social care funding is causing hospital operations to be delayed on a daily basis, a leading surgeon has warned.
Ian Eardley, Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said he rarely sees patients on time because too many people are stuck in hospitals waiting to be transferred.
“I’m a surgeon and when I go to hospital I have got an operating list every morning. And it rarely starts on time because the hospital is too full of patients,” he told the House of Lords Committee on the Long-Term Sustainability of the NHS.
“Each morning we have got 70 more patients in the hospital than there are beds and at the same time we have got 90 more patients in the hospital who need to be in social care beds who can’t get into social care beds.
“So it is making me inefficient. Improved spending in social care would improve my efficiency of elective surgery.”
Mr Eardley was one of several leading health figures that piled pressure on the Government to spend more on social care as they raised concerns about dwindling funds in the sector and the impact it was having on NHS services.
Dame Sue Bailey, Chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “In the short term we need to urgently ensure that social care is properly funded because healthcare is totally co-dependent on social care and would be able to deliver better if the pressure was off social care.”
Mr Eardley also claimed that the new sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), being drawn up to prevent the NHS from financial collapse, are being seen as “bailouts” by social care leaders.
He said: “I went to the launch of my own STP last week and I was struck in the discussions about social care and healthcare, that the social care people clearly saw the healthcare budget as an opportunity to bail out their problems and this is in the context of an NHS that in many ways is cash-strapped.
“While the principle of merging budgets and getting them streamlined makes enormous sense, I worry that simply transferring money from the healthcare budget to the social care budget on its own might not necessarily solve all the problems.”
Mr Eardley said he has seen social care funding in his area – Leeds and West Yorkshire – cut substantially in recent years.
He also told peers about his fears over the impact Brexit could have on the NHS workforce with around one in five surgeons in the NHS in England coming from the EU. If there is a dip in that number there could be a “significant problem”, Mr Eardley said.
Professor Jane Dacre, President of the Royal College of Physicians, told the committee: “Up to 20 per cent of our workforce is from the European Union. We haven’t done the numbers yet because it is still up in the air, I think suffice to say, it is not good.”
The Department of Health has said that issues surrounding workforce from the EU was one of the main priorities for its team working on Brexit.