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In an open letter, health and social care professionals and charities have urged the Prime Minister, David Cameron to be 'bold' and hold a Commission on the future of health and social care in the UK, as it faces huge demographic changes.
The letter implores the Government to build a model that is fit for purpose, to meet the challenges posed by an ageing population and an already underfunded care system.
Almost forty organisations, including: charity Independent Age, The International Longevity Centre – UK, Care England, The National Care Forum, Carers UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Anchor, Leonard Cheshire Disability and The National Council for Palliative Care.
David Sinclair, director of The International Longevity Centre – UK, commented: “The UK is facing dramatic demographic change – in the next twenty years the number of people aged 85 and older will more than double to over three million. It is crucial that we are prepared for that change. We need to start talking now, honestly and openly, about what standards of health and care older people can expect now and in the future. Establishing this Commission would be an excellent step towards this and we hope the PM will listen to the calls being made.”
’The UK will never be truly prepared for ageing’
Director of policy and external relations at Independent Age, Simon Bottery, said: “Without a robust health and care service that delivers for older people when they need it, the UK will never be truly prepared for ageing.
“A Commission on the future of health and social care is the vital first move towards recognising that the health and care systems cannot work in isolation – only when they work effectively together can the needs of older people be met. This is a conversation we cannot avoid if we are truly committed to ensuring older people have the quality of life they deserve. We urge the Prime Minister to back this Commission.”
Already NHS and Foundation Trusts are facing a projected £2.2bn deficit, while The Health Foundation has estimated that there could be £6bn social care funding gap by 2020.
The open letter urges the Prime Minister to:
• Make the Commission a reality;
• Address the monumental demographic challenges in the UK which will see almost one quarter of the population grow to be over the age of 65 in just over twenty years’ time;
• Recognise there is no room for complacency and ensure we have an NHS and social care system that is fit for purpose;
• Understand that if action isn’t taken it, older people, disabled people and their carers will bear the brunt of inaction.
'Demand for services continues to rise year on year but funding is failing to keep up’
On Wednesday 6 January, former Care Minister, Norman Lamb tabled a Bill that was backed by former Health Secretaries, Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn, calling for a cross-party Commission to review the future of health and social care in England.
Mr Lamb said: “The NHS and social care face an existential crisis. Demand for services continues to rise year on year but funding is failing to keep up. The position in social care is perhaps even more serious.
“Growing pressures on services are so severe that all parties must come together to fundamentally re-think how we can guarantee the future of the NHS and social care services.
“The Government cannot avoid this issue any longer. Establishing this commission will show they are serious about protecting these vital public services.”
Chief executive of Care England, Martin Green welcomed Mr Lamb’s calls for a health and social care Commission. He said: “After a wholly insufficient Spending Review announcement, we are staring into the abyss of an outdated and unfair system, which offers no stability to providers or care users. Norman Lamb’s bill, proposing a cross-party Commission on Health and Social Care, is a positive start to the New Year.
“Our system is built on outdated demographics, while our spend on health and social care is significantly less than the OECD and European averages. As Norman Lamb sensibly suggests, the Commission should decide what percentage of GDP we want to commit to health and social care, how we pay it and what the health and social care system(s) of the future will look like: including further integration, the possibility of a care tax and bringing together different funding routes. We need cross-party support for this Commission and its reforms, to create a system fit for the 21st Century.”
For more information on the work that Anchor does go to http://www.anchor.org.uk/