Last reviewed 10 December 2019

Age UK has said the lack of social care support is costing the NHS £587 million overall and is calling on the next elected government to urgently put the future of social care on a sustainable financial footing.

Age UK said this is the equivalent to £640,000 every day, or £27,000 every hour being wasted. Its research revealed that 2.5 million bed days will have been lost to the NHS between the last election and this one because there is not enough social care available to allow older people to be safely discharged. This is based on 917 days between the last general election on 8 June 2017 and the upcoming election on 12 December 2019.

The average number of people kept in hospital after they were ready to be discharged due to inadequate social care support was 2750 every day over the period between the last general election and the upcoming one.

Age UK said the waste of money was staggering, coming in at more than half a billion pounds. But Age UK Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said the human cost was arguably even greater, "with many older people finding this means their recovery and rehabilitation is seriously delayed or in the worst cases put out of reach altogether."

Alzheimer’s Society Policy and Campaigns Director Sally Copley described the figures as "compelling and indisputable evidence of the social care crisis gripping this country". She said: "Fixing this problem is not just the humane thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. It’s clearly ridiculous to not address it when it is more expensive to keep a person with dementia in hospital than for them to get the care they need and deserve."

Caroline Abrahams said: “We cannot go on treating the public in this way and leaving the NHS in an intolerably difficult situation. That’s why it is imperative that whichever party forms the next government, it takes decisive action to rebuild our social care system and put it on an even financial keel. This ought to be its number one domestic policy priority."