Portsmouth social care left with £1.2m blackhole as health bills soar

Adult social care costs are continuing to rise
Adult social care costs are continuing to rise
Ethan Roberts-Watts, 13, from Gosport, is donating presents to elderly patients at QA Hospital

Gosport boy answers QA Hospital appeal and donates gifts to patients

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PRESSURE on Portsmouth’s adult social care service is mounting as health bosses reveal its spending is £1m over budget – and costs are continuing to spiral.

Financial problems were exposed in a presentation updating a city council health scrutiny panel about the department’s financial position.

The outturn figure for quarter two is an overspend of £1.2m. We are getting close to having the figures for quarter three, which is looking like an even worse position than quarter two.

Portsmouth City Council’s deputy director of adult services, Angela Dryer

Looking after adults with learning difficulties and getting patients the right level of care once they leave hospital were said to be the biggest burdens.

Addressing members, the council’s deputy director of adult services Angela Dryer warned: ‘The budget is a huge challenge for us.

‘The out-turn figure (the actual amount rather than earlier calculations) for quarter two is an overspend of £1.2m.

‘We are getting close to having the figures for quarter three, which is looking like an even worse position than quarter two.

‘Our biggest areas of challenge are the learning disability service and some pressures in returning to more expensive packages of care for people coming out of Queen Alexandra Hospital, to ensure they get out as quickly as possible.’

Recruiting experienced care workers has also been an issue.

Ms Dryer said: ‘We had a very difficult 2016 in recruitment generally; getting the quality staff in.

‘But we now have everyone in place and all posts filled.’

A new social care contract awarded to help boost round-the-clock care has seen a reduction in residential care costs, but an increase in providing care for people living at home.

But there were highlights in the service’s performance, including the work of social care’s Independence and Wellbeing Team, which supports those whose needs fall outside those met by mainstream services to promote ‘independence and preventing dependence’.

The team works with people who are socially isolated and need support to ‘engage with their local communities’.

A Community Connector project aims to reduce loneliness and social isolation amongst vulnerable adults.

The findings come after the council’s Tory administration agreed to slash £1.382m from next year’s adult social care budget, the largest individual cut made in its latest £9m savings plan.

Councils have been granted permission by the government to raise council tax by three per cent a year to help fund social care.

But Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group chief operating officer Innes Richens told the scrutiny panel that a tax rise alone won’t cover rising costs.