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New commission could see merging of health and social care

24th June 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A new commission has been launched this week by health think-tank the King's Fund, which will be undertaking a major new investigation into the future of health and social care. Recent reports have suggested that the new commission is hoping to merge the health and social care systems, which could benefit those who use both systems and rely on mobility aids to live independently at home.

The health and social care systems have been separate since the creation of the NHS after World War II, and the Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England will be drawing upon the expertise of the various professionals who make up the team to see if it is viable to merge the two together.

Heading up the team is economist Kate Barker CBE, who will be investigating whether it is financially possible to merge health and social care together. In the current state of affairs, health care is provided by the NHS and social care is provided by local councils, and those who rely on both could benefit from the integration of the two in terms of quality of care. Communication between the two care systems has criticised as being poor in the past, and merging them together could help make communication easier and more efficient.

The current system has been described by former health secretaries as financially inefficient and not "focused holistically on the needs of the individual user", and they are just a few of the people calling for reform of the care system in England. Funding of an integrated care system has been an important point of discussion, and advocates of the model proposed by the Dilnot Commission have suggested that means-tested care that is capped could be the way forward.

The Dilnot Commission recommended in 2010 that an individual's contribution to social care costs should be limited to £35,000 and anything above this should be covered by the state, and former health minister Lord Warner was one of the many who have suggested that this model could be applied to some parts of the health service.

This is just one of the avenues that the new Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England could take, and whatever they choose to recommend, they are sure to have the best interests of patients at the heart of their decision, considering every aspect of patient care from the funding of indoor stairlifts in hospitals to free GP services and more.

It is expected that final recommendations will be made public by the King's Fund in September 2014.

Image Credit: Zdenko Zivkovic (flickr.com)