Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb has called for a cross-party commission to be established to review the future of health and social care in England.
Mr Lamb, who was Minister of State for Care and Support under the last coalition government, has been supported by former health secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn in his calls for a comprehensive review.
The Conservative government has pledged an additional £8.4 billion for the NHS by 2020, but Mr Lamb says this fails to take the state of social care into account, which is pushing more people towards hospitals and other NHS services.
He said the commission should look at everything from increasing taxes to pay for additional services to ending the “artificial divide” between health and care.
“The reality is that we will either see the system effectively crash or we confront the existential crisis now. This transcends party politics,” he said.
Care England, which represents the adult care industry, welcomed the initiative. “After a wholly insufficient Spending Review announcement, we are staring into the abyss of an outdated and unfair system, which offers no stability to providers or care users. Norman Lamb’s bill, proposing a cross-party Commission on Health and Social Care, is a positive start to the New Year,” said Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England.
“Our system is built on outdated demographics, while our spend on health and social care is significantly less than the OECD and European averages. As Norman Lamb sensibly suggests, the Commission should decide what percentage of GDP we want to commit to health and social care, how we pay it and what the health and social care system(s) of the future will look like: including further integration, the possibility of a care tax and bringing together different funding routes. We need cross-party support for this Commission and its reforms, to create a system fit for the 21st Century,” added Professor Green.