Responding to the announcement of the Spending Review, Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King's Fund, said:
‘While the NHS budget remains protected, it is under intense pressure. The additional cuts in local government funding announced today will add to this, as well as increasing the strain on social care services.
‘With this in mind, we welcome the significant increase in funding transferred from the NHS to promote joint working between health and social care. Alongside the recent announcement that new pioneer areas will develop integrated care at scale and pace, this signals a much more ambitious approach to delivering integrated care and a real opportunity to improve the co-ordination of services for patients and service-users.
‘The flip side is that this will increase the strain on the NHS at a time when many hospitals are already struggling to reduce costs and absorb reductions in the prices paid for their services. It will also add to pressures to reorganise hospital services – essential in any case to improve quality and increase financial sustainability.
‘Looking to the future, there is a limit to how long a sticking plaster can be applied to a growing wound. It is time to ask whether the post-war settlement, which established separate systems for health and social care, remains fit for purpose. This is why we have set up a new Commission to explore whether the current settlement should be re-shaped, including the scope for developing a single funding system for the NHS and social care.’
Notes to editors:
For further information or to request an interview, please contact The King’s Fund press office on 020 7307 2585 (or 07584 146035 if calling out of hours).
The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.