Responding to this year’s State of Care report, Richard Murray, Director of Policy for The King’s Fund, said: ‘This report highlights once again that the NHS is under increasing pressure, with demand for services growing faster than funding and with recruiting and retaining staff representing a huge challenge.
But while patients are having to wait longer to access care in some cases, it is encouraging that the majority of care that people receive is still good quality. The credit for this goes to the NHS staff whose hard work and commitment often act as shock absorbers in the system, but to expect staff to continue to work harder is clearly not a sustainable strategy.
‘The report also shows the continued instability in the social care sector, with wide regional variation in performance and falling capacity despite increasing demand. We agree that social care is one of the unsolved policy issues of our time, and the forthcoming consultation on social care needs to set out costed options for putting social care on a sustainable footing for the future. It is vital that the government fulfils its manifesto commitment to act ‘where others have failed to lead’ and that other parties approach this in the spirit of cross-party consensus that will be needed to affect real and long-lasting change.
‘This will mean confronting hard choices about how to pay for this through a combination of private and public funding. As well as increases in tax and National Insurance, this will involve looking at other options such as redirecting public spending, for example on winter fuel payments and perhaps Attendance Allowance, and being explicit about the role of housing wealth.’