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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Dozens of health experts press PM for review of health and social care funding

Experts have warned the Prime Minister that the challenges facing the health and care system are set to ‘accelerate’.

A letter to Theresa May signed by 75 leading health and care experts, including from the charity Independent Age, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of GPs and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, calls for ‘fundamental action’ to address the problems.

Without such action, ‘millions of older, ill and disabled people will continue to be badly let down’, they wrote.

The authors said there needs to be a longer-term solution to relieve the pressure on the NHS and local authorities, and called for a review of future funding.

‘There can be no doubt about the scale of the challenges facing health and social care services in England,’ the letter says.

‘Barely a day goes by without news of immediate problems – service reductions, missed targets – and warnings of future failings. 2017 simply cannot be another year where these huge issues are ducked.

‘While the Government has taken some short-term steps to try and relieve the pressures on the NHS and local authorities, without more fundamental action, these challenges will accelerate as our population increases and ages.

‘Although you have recognised the need to find a longer term solution, you have not yet said how you will go about developing one. Unless you adopt a bolder approach, millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers will continue to be badly let down.

‘That’s why we are now calling for the Government to establish a cross-party process to review and recommend action on future health and social care funding.’

At Prime Minister’s Questions, former health minister Norman Lamb will urge the Prime Minister to meet MPs to discuss the proposal.

The Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “The health and social care system in England is facing unprecedented challenges.

“Failing to find a solution to this crisis puts some of the most vulnerable people at risk – frail and elderly people in need of care services, disabled people who need support and people with long-term illnesses.

“Building a sustainable health and care system that can provide the kind of high-quality care people expect can’t be realised without putting aside party political point-scoring.

“That is why I’m supporting this call by Independent Age and a coalition of organisations across the health and care sector and I’m launching a cross-party group of MPs that will campaign specifically for agreement on health and social care funding.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise the pressures of an ageing population which is why we recently announced almost £900 million of additional funding for adult social care over the next two years.

“This Government has gone further to integrate health and social care than any other before it.

“We have brought budgets together for the first time through the Better Care Fund and given the NHS an extra £10 billion per year by 2020-21 to fund its own plan to build a more responsive, modern health system.

“But as the Prime Minister has made clear, this is not solely about money.

“That is why we are working to find a long-term, sustainable solution which helps local authorities learn from each other to raise standards across the whole system.”

Picture: Hospital ward. (Peter Byrne/PA).