Sixty second interview with Derek Wanless
It emerged last week that Derek Wanless is to head a one-year independent inquiry to review the funding of older people’s services
The government-commissioned review of NHS funding that you carried out in 2002 led to a big increase in health funding. Could the same happen for social care after your review?
I’m not prejudging the outcome. The first job is to work out what the demand for social care services is likely to be.
The government is understood to have declined to commission its own review on social care in case large funding increases were called for. With this, together with the review’s independent status in mind, how much impact do you envisage the review having on policy?
This is an area where policy is not well thought out. It needs attention and I hope we can make a significant impact.
A recent report from the prime minister’s strategy unit on disability proposes a concept of ‘individual budgets’. This involves all the funding that disabled people get to meet their support needs within and beyond social care, such as personal care and transport, being amalgamated into a single budget which the service user can decide how to spend either on their own or with assistance. Do you think older people will have more control over the services that they receive in the future?
I think they will demand more control and their increasing numbers and importance in elections should mean they are heard.
Did the government’s plans to publish a green paper on adult social care shortly influence the timing of your review?
In 1999 the government rejected the main recommendation of the Royal Commission on Funding Long Term Care for personal care to be free, as is currently the case in Scotland. Will the issue of the funding for personal care form a major part of your review?
Yes. But first we’ll be looking at how demand is likely to change. How it might be affected, for example, by individuals’ preferences, by better preventive healthcare and chronic disease management and by the ways markets could develop to serve older people who don’t need formal social care and who seek to prolong their maximum independence.
Do you think we will increasingly see health services funding social care for long-term gains in their own sector (health) such as reductions in emergency admission rates?
We need good team-work between many deliverers, public and voluntary sector, and certainly we need services which think about individuals’ long-term needs and how most effectively to use combined resources to satisfy them.