Over 500 people in Sheffield died while waiting for social care in the last four years

More than 500 people in Sheffield have died while waiting for social care over the last four years.
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Analysis of NHS Digital data by The Star reveals 580 people who applied for adult social services in the city between April 2016 and March 2020 died before they received any support.

In 2019-20 alone, 195 people died while waiting, or an average of nearly four per week.

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Social care support includes end of life care – which was provided to 7,310 applicants last year nationally – meaning those recorded as dying prior to care provision did not receive this, unless it was arranged privately with no involvement from the council.

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elderly care - oap - old age

The Institute for Public Policy Research said many people have been left to die “without dignity” because of a lack of funding for services to provide end of life support at home.

Thomas, senior research fellow for IPPR, said the number of deaths in the period between applying for social care and receiving it was concerning.

He said: “The evidence is clear that people overwhelmingly prefer to receive end of life care in their homes and communities, but that is only possible if funding is there for the right services.

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“Sadly, this hasn’t been the case - meaning many people dying deaths without dignity.

“IPPR analysis shows the Covid-19 pandemic has made this worse, by increasing the number of people relying on overstretched home, community and social care services for their end of life care."

The council with the highest number of deaths last year was Gloucestershire, where 2,225 people died, followed by Norfolk (1,680), Staffordshire (1,595), Derbyshire (1,445) and Essex (1,430).

In 2016-17, the first year the data was published, 265 people were recorded as dead after applying for care, falling to 55 the following year, and 65 in 2018-19.

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Reporting the deaths was only made mandatory in 2017-18, and could be recorded under an umbrella group of ‘no services provided’ in 2016-17, which may be behind the sudden increase.

The vast majority who died last year in Sheffield, 145 of 195, were aged 65 or over. Nationally, more than one in 50 applicants (2.2 per cent) in this age group (30,415 out of 1.37 million) had died before they received care.

That compared to 3,340 out of 560,350 applicants nationally aged 18 to 64 (0.6 per cent).

On Tuesday the Government announced an increase to National Insurance contributions of 1.25 percentage points.

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The majority of new funds from this ring-fenced ‘health and social care levy’ will initially go to the NHS to help it catch up in the wake of the pandemic, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid told a Downing Street press conference.

Around £5.3 billion of a total of £36 billion raised between 2022-23 and 2024-25 is intended to go to social care.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Government was “putting a sticking plaster on gaping wounds”.

Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, said the amount promised to social care “isn’t going to touch the crisis in the sector and will certainly not address the 120,000 vacancies in staffing, which is sending the sector into meltdown on a daily basis as care providers struggle to cover shifts”.

Local journalism holds the powerful to account and gives people a voice. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper. Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor