Prime Minister urged to hold Commission on future of NHS & social care

David Cameron must be bold and hold a Commission on the future of health and social care, as the UK is facing monumental demographic challenges. And the government must build a model that is fit for purpose to meet the challenges posed by an ageing society and an underfunded care system.

That’s according to an open letter to the Prime Minister signed by 40 organisations including Independent Age, the International Longevity Centre – UK, Care England, Carers UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Anchor, Leonard Cheshire Disability and the National Council for Palliative Care.¹

Former Care Minister Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem) has tabled a Bill², backed by two former Health Secretaries Stephen Dorrell (Con) and Alan Milburn (Lab) calling for a cross party Commission to review the future of health and social care in England.

The open letter urges the Prime Minister to:

  • Make the Commission a reality
  • Address the monumental demographic challenges in the UK which means nearly a quarter of the population will be over the age of 65 in just over twenty years’ time³
  • Recognise there is no room for complacency and ensure we have an NHS and social care system that is fit for purpose
  • Understand that if action isn’t taken it is the elderly, disabled people and their carers who will bear the brunt of inaction

Simon Bottery, Director of Policy and External Relations at Independent Age, the older people’s charity said:

“Without a robust health and care service that delivers for older people when they need it, the UK will never be truly prepared for ageing. A Commission on the future of health and social care is the vital first move towards recognising that the health and care systems cannot work in isolation – only when they work effectively together can the needs of older people be met. This is a conversation we cannot avoid if we are truly committed to ensuring older people have the quality of life they deserve. We urge the Prime Minister to back this Commission.”

David Sinclair, Director of the International Longevity Centre – UK, said:

“The UK is facing dramatic demographic change – in the next twenty years the number of people aged 85 and older will more than double to over three million. It is crucial that we are prepared for that change. We need to start talking now, honestly and openly, about what standards of health and care older people can expect now and in the future. Establishing this Commission would be an excellent step towards this and we hope the PM will listen to the calls being made today.”

It's about time

1Organisations making the call to David Cameron:

Simon Bottery, Director of Policy and External Relations, Independent Age
David Sinclair, Director, International Longevity Centre – UK
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England
Des Kelly OBE, Executive Director, National Care Forum
Marcus Rand, Director, Campaign to End Loneliness
Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive, Anchor
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support
Gillian Crosby, CEO, Centre for Policy on Ageing
Bridget Warr, Chief Executive, United Kingdom Homecare Association
Julienne Meyer CBE PhD, Professor of Nursing: Care for Older People, City University London and Executive Director of My Home Life programme
Jeremy Hughes CBE, Chief Executive, Alzheimer’s Society
Clare Pelham, CEO, Leonard Cheshire Disability
Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive, Mencap
Dr Jane Collins, CEO, Marie Curie
Claire Henry, CEO, The National Council for Palliative Care
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive, Carers UK
Heidi Travis, CEO, Sue Ryder
Gail Scott-Spicer, CEO, Carers Trust
Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive, MS Society
Richard Kramer, Deputy Chief Executive, Sense
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT (National AIDS Trust)
Jon Barrick, Chief Executive, Stroke Association
Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive, Muscular Dystrophy UK
David Scott-Ralphs, Chief Executive, SeeAbility
Ailsa Bosworth MBE, Founder and Chief Executive, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
Lisa Lenton, England Director, Association for Real Change (England)
Rachael Byrne, Executive Director, Care and Support, Home Group
Ian Cumming MBE, Director of Communication, Guideposts
Jonathan Senker, CEO, VoiceAbility
Sue Adams OBE, Chief Executive, Care & Repair England
Brian Hutchinson, Chief Executive, Real Life Options
Alex Fox, CEO, Shared Lives Plus
Sue Browning, CEO, Spinal Injuries Association
Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation
Tim Cooper, CEO, United Response
Irene Sobowale, CEO, The Disabilities Trust
Mike Adamson, CEO, British Red Cross
Dr Liam O’Toole, CEO, Arthritis Research UK
Roger Wicks, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Action on Hearing Loss
Steve Ford, Chief Executive, Parkinson’s UK

Full text of the letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

We welcome, and share, your aspiration to make Britain the best country in which to grow old.

That is why we were delighted to see three respected former Health Ministers (Norman Lamb (LD), Stephen Dorrell (Con) and Alan Milburn (Lab) calling for a cross-party Commission to review the future of health and social care in England.

The UK is facing monumental demographic challenges – nearly a quarter of the population will be over the age of 65 in just over twenty years’ time. There is no room for complacency. We need to ensure we have an NHS and social care system that is fit for purpose otherwise it is the elderly, disabled people and their carers who will bear the brunt of inaction.

Bold long term thinking is required about the size, shape and scope of services we want the NHS and social care to provide – and an honest debate about how much as a society we are prepared to pay for them.

It is vital that you meet the challenge posed by an ageing society, and an underfunded care system, head on and establish a cross-party Commission to review the future of health and social care in England.

We are keen to work with you to make this Commission a reality.

² Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem) tabled the NHS and Social Care (Commission) Bill on Wednesday 6 January 2016

³ Office of National Statistics Ageing in the UK Datasets 1992-2037

“Something needs to be done – will it be?”

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