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The NHS and social care – what’s yours should be mine too

17 March 2011

How will we fund the future care of the elderly? We hear a lot of public discussion on this big and difficult public policy issue. Today the King’s Fund, well respected for its impartiality and measured approach, has published a report (Social care funding and the NHS – An impending crisis?) warning that the current spending settlement undershoots current spending projections by at least £1.2 billion by 2014.

So services must be reformed. The King’s Fund calls for greater promotion of health and well-being by local authorities, a better understanding of local needs, and spending more closely targeted to those needs. All good stuff. But by far the most ambitious recommendation is to create “a single strategic assessment of the funding needs of the NHS and social care”.

In plain terms, that would effectively mean a single budget for both health and social care. To date this idea has largely been dismissed to the “too-difficult” basket. But times change. If the Dilnot Commission echoes the King’s Fund when it reports in July, the pressure for change will
grow.

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