Social care system near 'tipping point', care watchdog warns

Britain's social care system is near 'tipping point' according to the CQC. Credit: Daniel Karmann / PA Images

Britain's social care system is near "tipping point", according to health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The CQC has called for "urgent action" to tackle the issues, including an injection of funding into the care system.

In its annual assessment of care in England, the watchdog said that despite a 33% rise in the number of people aged 85 and over in the last decade, the proportion of people receiving local authority-funded care had reduced.

It said the number of beds in nursing homes was not increasing in line with demand and care home providers were pulling out of local authority contracts as funding did not cover the costs of care.

The CQC warned that the social care crisis was also putting increasing pressure on hospitals especially A&E departments.

The CQC said A&E departments are under increasing pressure. Credit: Andrew Matthews / PA Wire

The quality of care people received from health and care services in England varied considerably, the report added.

Overall, three in five hospital trusts have been told they need to make improvements - with particular problems being highlighted in medical services and accident and emergency departments.

And 81% of acute NHS trusts are rated as either inadequate or requiring improvement in terms of safety.

Margaret Willcox, vice-president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: "We are at a tipping point where social care is in jeopardy and unless the Government addresses the underfunding of the sector, there will be worrying consequences for the care market, the NHS and, most importantly, for older and disabled people, their families and carers."

An NHS England spokesperson, said: "This report confirms exactly what the Forward View said, that the NHS will not be able to care properly for the growing population of frail older people unless the availability of social care increases in line with rising need."