UK

Healthcare groups warn over care reform delays

An elderly woman
Image caption Spending on adult social care in England is to be cut by around £1bn this year

Elderly and frail people will suffer unless reforms on the future provision of long-term care in England are agreed, a health alliance has warned.

Charities, think tanks, local councils and health insurance firms have sent an open letter to the main political parties setting out their views.

According to the Daily Telegraph, it warned David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband that delay was not an option.

The Department of Health said it recognised the need for urgent reform.

Spending on adult social care is to be slashed by around £1bn this year.

'Difficult issues'

The letter was signed by leaders of Bupa Care Services, the Local Government Association, Age UK, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and social workers and care groups.

It stated: "The reform of funding for older people's long-term care and for younger people with disabilities remains one of the most difficult and challenging policy issues confronting England.

"For over a decade, governments of all colours have struggled to agree an answer.

"But delay is no longer an option. As a number of recent reports have highlighted, the increased pressure on public finances is pushing an already over-burdened system to breaking point.

"And without further integration between health and social care services this picture could worsen. It is frail, older people who will suffer unless the issue is resolved."

Age UK's charity director Michelle Mitchell said: "The current care system is in crisis. None of us want to live in a society where older people have to struggle on alone, isolated, scared and vulnerable for the last years of their lives."

She said the current system was at "breaking point" and described reforms as a "lifeline" for frail older people.

A government commission, led by economist Andrew Dilnot, is drawing up plans for the future funding of the social care system in England.

It will report its findings to ministers in July.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "The coalition government recognises the urgent need to reform the social care system - an aging population and rising expectations make the current system completely unsustainable.

"That is why the government acted quickly to establish the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, to make recommendations by July on how best to fund social care in future.

"We will bring together their findings with those of the Law Commission in a White Paper by the end of the year, to put in place a lasting and fair settlement for social care."

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