Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England

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The Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England (also known as the Barker Commission) was asked whether the post-war settlement, which established separate systems for health and social care, remains fit for purpose.

Launch event

As well as the commission’s chair, Kate Barker, we were delighted to host Bobby Duffy of Ipsos Mori, political commentator and broadcaster Steve Richards and expert by experience Becky Huxtable at the report’s launch.

What this will mean for patients

The original call for evidence included real stories to illustrate how the current divide between health and social care affects people's lives. We've updated these to show how the stories would be different if the commission's recommendations were implemented:

Related blogs

Blog

Can we ignore NHS charges any longer?

The second in a series of guest blogs that we are publishing in the run-up to the launch of the final report from the Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England. Each focuses on one of the possible options for funding future health and social care. Here, Andrew Haldenby and Cathy Corrie of Reform discuss why new NHS charges are necessary and why no political party wants to talk about them.
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About

About the commission

Huge social, demographic and technological changes have taken place since the NHS and social care systems were established in 1948. People are living longer, often with multiple long-term conditions, while the boundaries between health and social care are becoming increasingly blurred.

Despite this, services are still largely based on an outdated model of care founded on single episodes of treatment in hospitals, with social care provided under a separate system. With the NHS and social care facing unprecedented challenges, it is time to ask whether the post-war settlement, which established separate systems for health and social care, remains fit for purpose.

Kate Barker on the commission

We spoke to Kate Barker about her reasons for accepting this role, why now is the time to reconsider the boundaries of health and social care, and what she hopes the commission will achieve.

Why did we establish this commission?

The challenges facing health and social care are significant and urgent. The commission's final report will inform the debate on the sustainability of the current NHS and social care funding models and ensure that questions about funding are addressed alongside analysis of how best to meet the needs of 21st-century patients and service users. It was published in time to influence the party manifestos and inform the incoming government's agenda at the start of the next Parliament.

What questions was the commission seeking to answer?

The commission asked whether the post-war settlement – which established the NHS as a universal service, free at the point of use and social care as a separately funded, means-tested service – remains fit for purpose. It explored whether, and if so how, the settlement should be re-shaped by bringing the NHS and social care system closer together.

It also asked:

  • Does the boundary between health and social care need to be redrawn? If so, where and how? What other ways of defining health and social care needs could be more relevant?
  • Should the entitlements and criteria used to decide who can access care be aligned? If so, who should be entitled to what and on what grounds?
  • Should health and social care funding be brought together? If so, at what level (ie, local or national) and in what ways? What is the balance between the individual and the state in funding services?

What is the relationship between the commission and The King’s Fund?

The commission was independent of The King's Fund and determined its own recommendations. The interim and final reports were from the commission, not The King's Fund. The King's Fund met the costs of the commission, agreed its terms of reference and appointed its members.

How is the commission different to previous reviews?

Various reviews of the management and funding of health and social care have been conducted in recent years including separate reviews of NHS and social care funding by The King's Fund. What set this commission apart from other reviews past and present is that it fundamentally re-examined the terms of the post-war settlement under which the NHS and social care systems remain separate, with different entitlements, funding and legal frameworks.

The commissioners

Commission members were chosen for their knowledge, experience and independence, not to represent particular interests.

How the commission worked

The commission was independent of The King’s Fund and determined its own recommendations. In addition to regular meetings, it called for evidence and commissioned research and papers to inform its thinking. It tested ideas and options with experts, including stakeholders, patients, carers and people who use care and support services.

The interim report from the commission was published on 3 April 2014. The final report was published on 4 September 2014.

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Kate Barker

Chair

A business economist, former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee and now a holder of a number of non-executive posts.

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Geoff Alltimes

Chair of the Local Government Association's multi-agency task group on health transition and former Chief Executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and NHS Hammersmith and Fulham.

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Lord Bichard

Cross-bench peer and Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

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Baroness Greengross

Cross-bench peer and Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre UK.

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Julian Le Grand

Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at The London School of Economics.

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Mark Pearson

International adviser

Head of the Health Division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where he helps countries to improve their health systems by providing internationally comparable data, analysis and policy recommendations.

Engagement

Engaging with the commission

The commission engaged with stakeholders, patients, carers and people who use care and support services during its work. This diagram provides an overview of the different activities that took place.

Commission engagement image

Experts by experience panel

The Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England convened a group of ten experts by experience – people who use or have recently used health and social care or care for someone who has – to provide advice.

Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England experts by experience panel

The experts included: Heather Hughes, John Lish, Claire Jones, Dominic Stenning, Sally-Ann Marciano, Brian Gumbley, Clenton Farquharson, Becky Huxtable, Eleni Chambers (not pictured) and one member who wishes to remain anonymous.

Stakeholder opinions

We have spoken to a number of stakeholders in health and social care, the third sector, patients and carers at our engagement events during the commission's work. What do they think are the key issues that the commission must consider?

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