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Cross-party commission proposed to review health and care funding


8 January 2016

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A cross-party commission to review the future funding and structure of health and care services in England, proposed by Norman Lamb, has been approved for a second reading by the House of Commons today.

“The government,” he said, “faces a choice. The reality is the system will either drift into a state of crisis, or we confront the existential challenge now.”

A cross-party commission to review the future funding and structure of health and care services in England, proposed by Norman Lamb, has been approved for a second reading by the House of Commons today.

“The government,” he said, “faces a choice. The reality is the system will either drift into a state of crisis, or we confront the existential challenge now.”

He proposed a “dedicated NHS and care tax”, ending “the artificial divide between the NHS and social care,” and suggested it is nonsensical to fund health and social care through the NHS, local authorities, and the benefit system.

Lamb, MP for North Norfolk since 2011, mentioned the support for the commission from previous health secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alex Milburn, Care England and NHS Survival.

Stephen Dorrell, chair of NHS Confederation, wrote a letter supporting Lamb’s proposal to review the structure and funding of health and care services.

It read: “The distortions and inefficiencies which are caused by the artificial distinction between health and social care services are increasingly hampering efforts to provide the care and support people need. This will only get worse in the next decade in which cumulative demand will grow by nearly 50%, but real public funding will, on current government plans, grow by less than 10%.”

Dorrell also suggested that the idea of joint funding was “particularly timely” due to the current focus on integration, devolution, and local government and NHS England collaborations.

Lamb stated that: “The reality is that around the country anecdotal evidence suggests that too often preventive services are cut as clinical commissioning groups indulge in crisis management. The financial incentives in the system don’t help, we have payment for activity in acute hospitals but block contracts in community care and mental health. This ensures that rational allocation of resources is distorted.

“Acute hospitals continue to see increases in income,” he added “but demand for their services also increases, in part because of a failure to invest in preventive care. So there position becomes even more perilous despite the increase in income. It’s a vicious circle that somehow has to be broken.”

The NHS and Social Care (Commission) Bill will be prepared and read for the second time on Friday 11 March.

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