HEALTH bosses and politicians have responded to claims from a Bolton MP that cuts in social care are leading to more people ending up in accident and emergency at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
The Bolton News reported yesterday how operations have been cancelled and some patients have had to wait more than 11 hours for a bed as doctors struggle to cope with a massive rise in admissions.
MP for Bolton South East ,Yasmin Qureshi, said cuts to council services is making it more difficult for vulnerable and elderly people to be cared for in their own homes — which could prevent them having to go into hospital in the future.
In turn, patients are being left in hospital for longer while nurses struggle to find a safe place to discharge them to while they are still recovering, she argues.
Many of the patients admitted to the Royal Bolton in the past month are being treated for respiratory problems, made worse by the recent wintry weather
Andy Ennis, chief operating officer at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said in response: “We work closely with social services to arrange support for patients out of hospital but they have also been under a great deal of pressure.”
Under the proposed Labour budget for 2015-17, another £7.75 million will be cut from adult social care department in Bolton Council.
The authority has already slashed £100 million from its total budget in 2011 – but needs to find an extra £43 million between 2015 and 2017.
To save money, council bosses are now looking at creating an "arms length" company to transfer in-house social care services — with new starters appointed on "less expensive" terms and conditions, although they will be paid the living wage.
Other proposals include cutting support services, which may include transport, community meals and voluntary sector grants.
Cllr Christopher Peacock, the councillor in charge of adult social care at Bolton Council, said the authority is doing everything it can to look after Bolton’s most vulnerable, but has to find savings.
“I cannot see the situation getting better until government changes the relationship between local and national government, and when we have a government in power that is cutting to resolve a deficit that is still growing”, he said.
“Ultimately we are facing the most difficult financial decisions in the authority’s history with the amount of money that is being cut.
“Evidence of increased waits at A&E and frustrations in the care system are all the more reason why we have to make integration of the health care system work."
Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said the problems encountered at the Royal Bolton A&E were mirrored in trusts across the country this winter.
He said: “There has been a general increase in demand on community services, GPs and A&E recently and we are concerned about the long waiting times for local people and apologise for this.
“NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group has jointly invested with Bolton Council this year in order to start integration or joined up care in Bolton earlier than other areas, and further funds have been agreed in 2015 so that patients with potentially debilitating long term conditions will receive better support in their home and the community and reduce the need to visit A&E.”