Our response to Ed Miliband's speech at the Labour Party conference

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Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said in response to Ed Miliband’s speech:

‘Ed Miliband’s announcement on increased funding for the NHS shows politicians are now acknowledging the scale of the financial problem facing health and social care. Labour’s commitment to transform the way care is delivered, not just to focus on the immediate funding crisis, is welcome and points towards putting health and social care on a sustainable footing in the future.

‘The problems of NHS funding can’t be solved in isolation from social care. The recent Barker Commission report recommended a single ring-fenced budget for health and social care adequately funded by a rise in health and social care spending to 11 – 12 per cent of GDP by 2025 – broadly comparable to current expenditure on health alone in many other countries.

‘A combination of a mansion tax, tobacco levy and tax avoidance initiatives alone will not fill the growing funding gap. Today's announcement is a significant step forward, but we will need to see Labour's spending plans in full before we know whether they will be enough to meet the funding gap.

‘The Barker report looked at the different options available to increase funding for a combined health and social care budget and suggested that a range of measures from a review of wealth taxes, changes to prescription charges and National Insurance increases could all play a part. These are hard choices while the public finances are still recovering but they cannot be ducked in the lead-up to the general election.’

Notes to editors

The King’s Fund has proposed that a two-step solution is needed. Additional funding needs to maintain essential NHS services to avoid patients facing deteriorating care. Alongside this a new health and social care transformation fund should be established to invest in new community based services and to reduce reliance on acute hospitals.

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.

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