Alzheimer’s Society and Help the Aged call for long-term care debate

Two of the country’s biggest adult services charities yesterday reiterated calls for the government to start a national debate on the system of funding for long-term care.

The Alzheimer’s Society said yesterday’s parliamentary ombudsman report criticising Department of Health guidance on compensating people wrongly denied NHS-funded continuing care “highlights the catastrophic muddle of government policy on who pays for care”.

Chief executive Neil Hunt said: “It is time for the government to lead a national debate on who pays for care. We need a more equitable settlement that gives people a clear understanding of their rights.”

This followed a similar call from Help the Aged in a report on adult social care funding which said the current means-tested social care funding system was “bust”, with the balance of funding between state and individual unclear and often unfair.

While health secretary Patricia Hewitt and care services minister Ivan Lewis have backed such a debate in principle, the DH has resisted initiating one.

This is despite calls last September for a debate from a coalition of council leaders and charities including the Alzheimer’s Society and Help the Aged.

This followed Derek Wanless’ Kings Fund-sponsored report last March, which called for the means-tested system to be replaced by one in which all service users would receive a minimum level of public funding which they could top up with state assistance.

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