Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

NHS ‘will buy more social care beds’ under Labour

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Labour would end the ‘two-tier health system emerging under the Conservatives’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Labour would end the ‘two-tier health system emerging under the Conservatives’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The NHS will be encouraged to buy up social care beds in a bid to get medically-fit patients out of hospitals faster, Labour has said.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said patients currently stuck in NHS beds due to a lack of social care provision “could fill 26 hospitals”.

Mr Streeting said the party will ensure that NHS and social care work together to “spend money more effectively than they currently do”.

“I went to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington this month where a patient had been stuck in hospital for 60 days, despite being well enough to leave because the care wasn’t available,” Mr Streeting said in a speech to the Medical Journalists’ Association in London.

“Not only is that a waste of that patient’s time and life, it is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The number of patients in hospital beds today unable to be discharged because of a lack of care in the community could fill 26 hospitals.

“The price of that failure is £1.7 billion a year. Labour will get more hospitals doing what Leeds Teaching Hospitals are already doing: investing in local social care beds to discharge patients faster, better for patients and less expensive the taxpayers.”

He later added: “Leeds has shown it is possible to discharge patients from hospital who no longer need to be there faster through close partnership between the NHS and social care partners.

“It is better for the patient and it is better for the taxpayer, because people are getting the right care, in the right place for a fraction of the cost.

“We will learn from the great innovations already happening in the health service like this, and take the best of the NHS to the rest of the NHS.”

According to NHS England figures, an average of 12,360 hospital beds per day last month were occupied by people ready to be discharged.

Mr Streeting also reiterated his pledge to use up private sector capacity, adding: “There’s nothing left wing about leaving hospital beds to lie empty while working class patients lie in pain.”

Meanwhile Mr Streeting was critical of the “glacial” rollout of a new data platform which aims to make it easier for health and care bodies to work together to provide better services to patients.

He said: “I think the sort of the pace of adoption is pretty glacial if I’m honest, for something that’s cost a significant amount of taxpayer money and is a vital national strategic importance as a project. I have been pretty stunned when I’ve spoken to trusts about why the take up isn’t as good as it could be.

“When I’ve heard people say ‘I’m not sure about Palantir’ (the US tech giant leading the project), or ‘I’m not sure that the NHS has a really good track record on this sort of project’. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t wash with me.

“There’s been a national decision taken with significant investment of public money. This is of vital importance and patients – go further, faster.”

Meanwhile Mr Streeting said the NHS is “going through the biggest crisis in its history”, but he pledged to get the four-hour A&E waiting time target back on track under a Labour government.

There is a national target for 95% of people who go to A&E to be admitted, transferred or sent home within four hours.

The target has not been met since July 2015. The latest figures show that 74% of patients were seen within four hours in A&Es last month.

Mr Streeting said that “pouring more money into a broken system” would be “wasteful in every sense” as he said the NHS needed to move away from being a “sickness service”.

Asked whether things would get worse before they get better for the NHS, Mr Streeting said: “I’m not sure I’m quite that fatalistic… I’m being honest with the public that we can’t wave a Labour magic wand and fix everything on day one or fix everything by Christmas. But what we do have is a plan to hit the ground running, what we do have as a track record that the public can have confidence in.”

He also said a Labour government would end a “two-tier health system” – citing how “wealthy and well-connected” people know how to navigate the system better than working class counterparts.

He added: “It will be the driving mission of Keir Starmer’s Labour government to end the injustice of the two-tier healthcare system emerging under the Conservatives – where those who can afford it pay to skip the queue and go private while everyone else is left behind; and where the wealthy and well-connected get a better service at no extra cost than ordinary working people.”

A spokesperson for Leeds Health and Care Partnership said: “In Leeds, our social care services, community healthcare, and hospital teams have been working together to change and improve our intermediate care offer.

“The changes we have made so far have already started making a difference, including supporting people to get out of hospital sooner, into community settings or their homes, where they can continue their recovery safely, and enhancing their longer-term wellbeing.

“However, we acknowledge ongoing challenges, and our social care and NHS teams will continue working together to deliver the best possible intermediate care services in Leeds.”

Commenting on the speech, Sally Warren, director of policy at The King’s Fund, said: “The example of more joined up working in Leeds between the NHS, social care and others is showing early signs of good outcomes for people and for the system.

“The local hospital, GP, social care and community health services are bolstering out-of-hospital services to help avoid people being admitted in the first place, and support them to get home more quickly if they have had a hospital stay.

“The NHS and social care operate as part of one interconnected system.

“When one bit of the system is under pressure, the long waits can back up elsewhere.

“Perhaps the most visible example is when a lack of community or social care support stops people from being discharged out of hospital, which in turn means there is no space for new patients to be admitted to hospital, and we all see the results with long queues of ambulances at A&E each winter.

“The kind of improvements seen in Leeds are exactly the sorts of joined up working that the new integrated care systems were set up to achieve.

“It’s encouraging that Labour want to see best practice rolled out more.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “We will take no lectures from Labour.

“Their unfunded plans form part of their £38.5 billion spending black hole which they would fill by increasing council tax and other taxes by at least £2,094 on working families.

“Only Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have a clear plan to take the bold action needed to provide dignity and security to those in social care.

“Keir Starmer cannot say what he would do to fix social care because he doesn’t have the courage or conviction to take difficult decisions, taking the country back to square one.”