New £500,000 fund set up to avoid winter care crisis in county

CRISIS AVOIDANCE: social workers will be working on site at hospitals this Christmas. Inset, County Councillor Tony Martin
CRISIS AVOIDANCE: social workers will be working on site at hospitals this Christmas. Inset, County Councillor Tony Martin
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Lancashire County Council is set to spend nearly £1m to help provide more winter care and crisis support for county residents and ease pressure on local hospitals.

It has created a new £500,000 contingency fund from its reserves. Meanwhile the NHS has given the council £430,000 plus to help meet winter demands.

County Coun Tony Martin

County Coun Tony Martin

The funding comes amid national concerns about hospital bed blocking and as figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed there were 1,300 excess winter deaths in the county during 2014/15 - a 143 per cent increase from the previous year.

A social care team will now survey county hospitals regularly to identify immediate actions to speed up discharge of patients. If these actions need extra funding the contingency fund will be used.

County Coun Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community service said: “I am committed to doing all we can for our frail elderly citizens over the winter months.

“We are fully committed to working with colleagues in the (health) Trusts and the Clinical Commissioning Groups to try and ease pressures and keep the system running through the rest of the winter.”

The NHS resilience cash will fund extra staff at key times to support safe and appropriate discharges from hospital and avoid delays in transfers of care.

The council said it has restricted annual leave across hospital and community teams until January 31, is recruiting 20 more occupational therapists and commissioning 300 hours extra crisis home care support.

There will be social work staff on site at hospitals every day throughout the festive period.

For winter tips see www.lancashire.gov.uk/winter.aspx