Call for merged health and care budget

The interim report from the independent Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England has been published this week.  The report calls for a single health and social care system to prevent vulnerable people falling into the gaps between the current NHS and social care services.

The Commission has been set up by the King’s Fund think tank and is led by the former Bank of England monetary policy committee member Kate Barker.  Its aim is to consider whether there are better ways of determining people’s entitlement to health and social care and how they can be funded.

The report concludes that the current system, set up in 1948, is not fit for the circumstances of today.  Funding of health and social care and the needs of the general population have developed beyond the scope of the current system.

The report highlights a lack of understanding by the public and calls for greater transparency in funding for social care.  It concludes that the lack of alignment between both entitlements to health and social care and funding streams, caused by wildly different means of assessing need, can cause friction over responsibility for the funding of individuals care and support needs.

Ms Barker stated that a pooled budget would create “a single seamless health and care system.  The current systems rub up against each other like bones in an open fracture.  This is not sustainable – we need a new settlement fit for the 21st Century.”

The final report, likely to be published in September, is intended to expand on the proposed ideas and will look at the practicality and possible implementation of such a system.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said that integration was the right approach but added “it can’t happen until the social care funding gap is filled and politicians in every party need to recognise this and commit to action as an urgent priority.”

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