There has been a rising sense of crisis in Care with Britain facing 'monumental demographic challenges', as a recent Guardian article predicts the collapse of major care provider in 2016, and a 'strange rebirth of directly provided social care as councils find themselves forced to act as provider as last resort', other news underlined the sense of concern as 3 previous health secretaries call for an independent commission, supported by an open letter to David Cameron from 40 organisations

that included:

  • Care England
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • International Longevity Centre
  • British Red Cross
  • Mencap
  • MS Society

Monumental demographic changes mean that within 20 years more than 25% of the population will be over the 65 years old and over 3 million people will be 85 year old or older. At the same time they predict a £30bn gap in NHS funding

The independent commission to review the future of Health and Social Care in England is proposed by Norman Lamb, Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn. They recognise that all of the parts of Health and Social Care are linked together; that public services need to be more flexible, reliable and more focused on preventing illness rather than managing crises. The commission would be able propose a new funding settlement.

The 40 organisations that signed the open letter are all involved in the reality of providing care to elderly and vulnerable people; they call for a system that is fit for purpose, they want bold, long term thinking about the size, shape and scope of services and an honest debate about how much as a society we are prepared to pay.

The issues under discussion are not new: integration of Health and Social Care and funding. What is new is that 3 former health secretaries are calling for the review and such a wide panoply of influential players in the care environment are speaking with one voice. But was not Dilnot a result of an independent commission? Will the political landscape allow this sensible and adult discussion or will a succession of short term solutions to crises result in a system that is more Heath Robinson than fit for purpose?

General NewsLydia Walker