Leonard Cheshire voices concern at bed-blocking fine

A leading disability charity has warned that the Government's plans to penalise local authorities over "bed-blocking

could affect voluntary-sector funding.

Health secretary Alan Milburn announced last week that councils that were unable to provide alternative accommodation for patients unnecessarily occupying NHS beds would be fined. The money raised would then be ploughed back into the health service.

John Knight, head of external policy with Leonard Cheshire, which provides residential care on behalf of local authorities, said that the measure would mean that funding would be affected. "It will only succeed in spreading the jam a lot thinner,

he said.

"If a local authority is not providing enough social care it is not because it doesn't want to but because it can't. To add further financial penalties is ludicrous. At the end of the day, it is lack of money from central government that is the problem."

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