20 February 2018
Cuts to social care services leave patients ‘unsafe’ say local GPs
Doctors in Brighton and Hove are desperately concerned at the lack of basic care support for their patients, due to cuts in adult social care services, a survey has revealed.
Forty-seven of the city’s GPs have informed all Councillors of their battle to find any social care service. They blame cuts that have left many social care services at full capacity or oversubscribed, with long waits for a needs assessment, or even the doctor being turned away and told to look elsewhere.
Responding to questions on the ‘effects of reductions on social care budgets’ 93% of doctors surveyed said they had been forced to send patients to hospital unnecessarily, in some cases on a weekly basis, as no home care was available.
Since 2011, government cuts have resulted in a £4.6bn reduction in social care budgets in England, which represents a real terms net budget cut of 31% 
Green Councillors are now seriously concerned that further budget cuts planned by the city’s Labour Council will push doctors and patients to breaking point. 65% of doctors stated they were not aware of the planned cuts in social care with a staggering 85% saying it will make patients’ health and safety ‘much worse’.
Councillor Dick Page, Green spokesperson for health and wellbeing, commented:
“The results of this survey paint an alarming picture of a service that simply cannot withstand further cuts. I am shocked at the indifference of Labour councillors and CCG leaders to such reports from the front line. They seem more interested in ploughing ahead with a costly ‘integration’ reorganisation which conforms to the government’s financial straightjacket.
“Greens and local campaigners have warned time and time again that community services are at breaking point. We have far fewer GPs per head than the rest of Sussex, for example. This Council seems unwilling to face up to the reality that the NHS is being starved of funds. It lies within the administration’s hands to work with all parties to reconsider these grave cuts to health and social care.”
Keith Taylor MEP, a former city councillor and a member of the European Parliament’s Public Health Committee, added:
“GP surgeries are the first port of call for patients but are under intolerable pressure as the cuts to social care and pharmacies  continue apace. While, locally and nationally, Greens are committed to battling against the cuts, too often in places like Brighton, where almost a quarter of GP surgeries have been closed since 2015  Labour councils are meekly acquiescing. Now more than ever it is essential that councils across England stand up to a Conservative Government that is putting people’s lives at risk in the pursuit of an ideological-driven policy of defunding and, ultimately, dismantling our beloved NHS.”
Findings from the local GP survey echo the results of national poll that show a cut in social care contributes to increased delayed discharge or ‘bed blocking’ in hospital as services are left unable to cope with increasing demand.
One local GP surveyed said “The thought of this getting worse doesn’t bear thinking about,” with another stating that they “frequently see elderly patients who could manage at home with extra support but an ‘urgent’ referral to social services for support is not responded to for several weeks […] and rapid response team is too full to take any new referrals. Hospital admission is inappropriate, but patients cannot be left in an unsafe situation. This is a regular occurrence.”