South Holland’s council leader Gary Porter wants the Government to carry on with its plan to spend an extra £8billion on health – but says councils should have a big slice of the cash to stop so many people going into hospital in the first place.
At the minute, the Government has promised the whole sum will be ploughed into the NHS up to the year 2020.
You go in with something relatively minor and you end up catching something relatively life-threatening.Gary Porter
Coun Porter wants to see £3billion diverted to council adult social care budgets to help people remain in their own homes to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions as well as allow hospital patients to go home sooner.
He claims £3billion given to councils would deliver benefits worth £6billion.
Coun Porter described hospital beds “as the most expensive beds in the country” and says keeping people out of them will benefit the health of potential patients as well as the overall health budget.
He says keeping people out of hospital will also stop so many people suffering from hospital-acquired infections.
He said: “You go in with something relatively minor and you end up catching something relatively life-threatening.”
Coun Porter has become the most influential politician in local government, having been elected chairman of the Local Government Association last week, and his remarks on health budgets have sparked stories in national newspapers and on TV.
He told the Free Press: “Spending on health should be protected but not the NHS as an institution.
“We can’t afford to do what the country’s been doing and that means politicians have to be free to have a conversation about it and they can’t because the electorate won’t let them.
“We need to spend more money stopping people getting broken in the first place and not spend money fixing people after they have got broken.”
If South Holland District Council were given extra health cash, Coun Porter would spend it on home adaptations to suit residents’ needs, like walk-in showers, and the county council could use the money for more carers, all of which would help people remain safely at home.
Councils have been forced to reduce staff numbers because their main Government grants have been slashed by up to 40 per cent between 2010/11 and 2015/16 – but the NHS hasn’t seen similar cuts in its managers.
Coun Porter said: “Nobody in their right mind can think there’s too few bureaucrats working in the health service – it makes local government’s waste look like petty cash.”
He says the whole argument should revolve around the best use of the cash for people’s health needs.