Funding shortage impedes health and social care policy, says report

Integrating social services and health and
protecting users from poor quality care could be impeded by
shortages of funds for social care, the King’s Fund warned last

Five-Year Health Check examines Labour’s health policy. It
concludes that the government has failed to establish a fair and
sustainable system for funding long-term care. “It has removed some
anomalies from the system but may well be creating new problems,”
it states.

government is praised for much of its record on health, including
its substantial increase in public finance for the NHS and new
transparent system of rationing. “It has managed to achieve closer
integration of health and social care and better regulation of
social care – both sorely needed,” it adds. “It has put health
inequalities on the policy map and made far greater efforts to
reduce them than any of its predecessors.”

However, there are tensions
around long-term care. The King’s Fund review argues that the
government has been unable to reconcile a notion of fairness and
sustainability, and has not yet come up with a plan that inspires
confidence. It accuses the government of two “outright failures”.
One is the refusal to implement the recommendations of the Royal
Commission on Long-Term Care for the Elderly, which has left users
and carers dissatisfied and has failed to mend a rickety system.
The other is the use of private finance to build new hospitals
without a strategy based on an assessment of future need and
without transferring any risk from the public to private

Primary care organisations have
been overloaded with new instructions and pushed to the limits by
reorganisation so that they are unable to meet all the new
expectations that have been heaped upon them, says the review.
Area-based strategies to tackle the causes of ill-health have
suffered from project overload.

King’s Fund last year argued for social care funding to match that
of the NHS. Janice Robinson, the fund’s director of health and
social care, said the recent increases announced in the budget
widened the gap between social care and health. “The amount that’s
been agreed is not going to the business as it were, given that
social services are spending much much higher than standard
spending assessments.”

Five-Year Health Check can be found at


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