THE Government has been warned a raft of initiatives to improve adult social care and cut hospital “bed blocking” will be wasted unless long-term funding for the schemes is provided.

North Yorkshire County Council ‘s leaders said it welcomed Government funding of £19m over three years to meet spiralling adult social care needs in the county, cut delays in patients’ hospital discharges and ensure the local social care provider market is supported.

But as the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services published its annual report highlighting pressures on social care budgets nationally, a meeting of the council’s executive heard North Yorkshire was facing amongst the greatest of challenges and would have to wrestle with Government hospital discharge targets, which have been labelled “unachievable”.

Councillor Michael Harrison, the authority’s executive member for adult social care and health integration, said while the funding had enabled the authority to almost halve the number of people delayed in being discharged from hospital over the past year, it had spent 44 per cent of its overall budget on adult social care.

He said it also faced having a proportionately large and rapidly rising elderly population and issues with being able to staff care homes and home care.

After discussions with NHS bodies, the council has revised its adult social care spending plans, which will focus on cutting delayed transfers of care patients to occupying no more than 3.5 per cent of hospital bed days.

As a major contributor in the county to hospital discharge delays has been identified as recruiting care sector staff, the council is set to introduce schemes such as £180,000 of nursing bursaries for the independent sector and £334,000 to attach occupational therapists to home improvement agencies.

Cllr Harrison said the Government needed to recognise the cost of delivering services in a rural county. He added: “The danger the council has is that it’s £19m, it’s very welcome, but in three years it’s gone. So what we are saying to Government is for this money to work some of it, or all of it or more has to be given for these initiatives to continue past three years. We have packages of care that are needed and there just isn’t the workforce out there to deliver those packages.

“A target is all well and good, but not without the resources long-term to make a difference, particularly in an area like North Yorkshire where unemployment is so low, meaning the workforce we are trying to recruit into is almost non-existent in places. So we have a particular challenge in North Yorkshire that’s maybe more acute than the rest of the country, but investing in adult social care as a place to work and as a career to look to is a challenge that will only be fixed with money.”