The King’s Fund responds to a letter from the chairs of three Select Committees to the Prime Minister

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Responding to a letter on health and social funding written to the Prime Minister by the chairs of three House of Commons Select Committees, Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘Securing sustainable funding for social care is a challenge that successive governments have failed to meet.

‘The result is that the social care system has become a threadbare safety net that is being stretched ever more thinly, with the sector facing a £2.4 billion funding gap. The impact of this is felt by the most vulnerable in society, with more than 400,000 fewer older people receiving publicly funded social care in 2014/15 than in 2009/10 – despite growing numbers of older people living with complex care needs.

‘On health funding, the planned increases in spending are not enough to maintain standards of care, meet rising levels of demand, and transform services. Patients are waiting longer for treatment, mental health services are under pressure, and intermediate care is being cut.

‘Hard-pressed NHS staff are becoming the shock absorbers as pressures on the health service continue to grow. These will peak in 2018/19 and 2019/20, when there is almost no planned real-terms growth in NHS funding.

‘A new settlement for health and social care is long overdue. This should build on the work of the Barker Commission, which made recommendations on the future of health and social care in England. In particular, there needs to be a single, ring-fenced budget for the NHS and social care, paid for through increased public funding.

‘For too long there has been a lack of political leadership on these issues. We agree that a political consensus that puts health and social care funding on a sustainable footing is sorely needed. Without a consensus, patients and people in need will suffer.’

Notes to editors

The King’s Fund issued a joint statement on health and social care with the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation ahead of the Autumn Statement in November 2016.

The Fund’s latest quarterly monitoring report found that the NHS was heading into winter with its finances under pressure and performance against key targets at their worst level for more than a decade.

The final report of the Barker Commission, published in 2014, proposed a new settlement for health and social care.

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