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7th January 2015

A&E crisis: Social care cuts highlighted as part of "huge problem" in emergency care

The impact of cuts to social care budgets are being cited as one of the causes of the current crisis in accident and emergency units in England and Wales.

A&Es in England have recorded their worst ever performance and A&E services in Wales have also come in for criticism as politicians argue over the causes of the problem.

Labour's shadow health spokesman, Andy Burnham, has accused English health secretary Jeremy Hunt of failing to anticipate the impact of cuts on local authority social care budgets which he says are leaving frail elderly people "trapped in hospital".

In his letter to Mr Hunt he also blamed difficulties getting GP appointments and staff shortages for the delays.

Mr Burnham told ITV's Good Morning Britain (GMB) today (January 7) that health and social care should be brought together as "one budget", saying it did not make sense trying to save money on social care but then spending "thousands" on people who end up in hospital.

He told GMB: "I repeatedly warned throughout this parliament that if you cut social care, if you take away support from older people in their homes, in the end that falls back on the NHS because people end up going into hospital and they become trapped there."

He added: "I think the time has come actually to see them as one budget, not seeing the council (social care) budget and then the NHS budget over here. See them as one budget and start to care for older people very differently. Start in their own homes and support them there."

Read more on this story:

The Guardian: Why is the NHS in trouble: 7 reasons why A&Es are struggling

BBC News: Labour seeks summit to find A&E 'fix'

Good Morning Britain: Andy Burnham 'We'll bring health and social care together'

Press Association via Yahoo News: Labour urges A&E emergency summit

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