Yes, if politicians act on an important report published by The King’s Fund.
The King’s Fund is probably Britain’s leading independent think-tank in this field. It set up a Commission on the future of health and social care in England, chaired by the noted economist Kate Barker. The five commissioners were all individuals of high standing in their respective fields. They drew on the expertise of a distinguished list of relevant practitioners, as well as evidence submitted from a wide of sources. After a year’s work, its finding were published this month. We repeat here the Fund’s own summary of conclusions from the Commission’s Final Report.
The commission recommends moving to a single, ring-fenced budget for the NHS and social care, with a single commissioner for local services.
A new care and support allowance, suggested by the commission, would offer choice and control to people with low to moderate needs while at the highest levels of need the battlelines between who pays for care – the NHS or the local authority – will be removed.
Individuals and their carers would benefit from a much simpler path through the whole system of health and social care that is designed to reflect changing levels of need.
The commission also recommends a focus on more equal support for equal need, which in the long term means making much more social care free at the point of use.
The commission largely rejects new NHS charges and private insurance options in favour of public funding.
The report deserves wide study. From our perspective at Cedars Castle Hill, the most important element in the package is the recommended removal of the “battlelines between who pays for care –the NHS or the local authority.”
Over the past year or more, we have been commenting here about the gap between implied political promises and reality on the ground. The particular battleground highlighted by The King’s Fund lies at the heart of that paradox.
Eliminate it, and then we can begin to tackle the fundamentals of the challenge of funding care.
The report also addresses the financial task ahead, and offers a phased plan to build up over a decade to the spending level which it regards as unavoidable.
Clearly there is room for political argument over the conclusions and recommendations, but let us hope that we now have an acceptable independent analysis around which to focus that argument. Until now, we have had little other than political dishonesty masquerading as a serious approach to a fundamental obligation of government.