Health and Social Care funding will determine our fiscal future

We believe that the funding of health and social care will be the single most important determinant of our fiscal future.
2020health launched its report on the future funding of social care today at a round-table event hosted by Saga and addressed by Andrew Dilnot who is chairing the government’s social care funding Commission. Our research in the report  ‘Take Care’ showed that 72% of councils have cut back care only to those with substantial or critical needs, and councils estimate for 2010-11 that will show an increase to 76%[1]. The UK is the poor man of Europe when it comes to spending on elderly care. The UK is near bottom of the EU league (17th out of 20) and we spend only half as much as France and Italy as a % of GDP, while spending 50% less than Germany, Poland, Portugal etc.[2] However the solutions lie in both spending more privately and publicly as well as appreciating more the contribution of those who care.
The report from the Commission can’t come too soon. We know that demand for care is going up and the numbers of those receiving help is going down.  This is a betrayal of our elderly and the government need to decide quickly how they are going to ensure that frail, older people are not left living in fear and uncertainty but given confidence and control. My years spent looking after the eyesight of the frail and elderly meant that I frequently heard about the fears of older people, not knowing how their care would be paid for or suffering from the withdrawal of previously provided care due to cutbacks.
The current policy on care is incoherent. The government wants to prevent so many people needing to go into hospital, but local councils are cutting back funding by refusing to pay for those with moderate needs and concentrating money only on those with substantial or critical needs.  Politicians know this. Those who provide social care get no benefit from saving money to the NHS, so they have no incentive to help prevent hospital admissions.
The latest data show that over three quarters of local authorities are now denying help to 275,000 people with moderate needs and focussing funding only on those with ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’ needs.
More emphasis needs to be placed on prevention or delay of dependency, thereby reducing overall costs within both social care and the NHS. And of course the remaining problem will be the integration of social care – but we know that can’t be addressed until we have clarity on the future funding.
Our recommendations include:
• More emphasis needs to be placed on prevention or delay of dependency, thereby reducing overall costs within both social care and the NHS.
• Technological innovations which reduce the cost of care, such as telecare, assisted living housing and
retirement villages, should be supported and their further development encouraged.
• A review of the financial model needs to facilitate better integration between the NHS and social care.
[2]OECD analysis of spending on elderly care

About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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