Public purse 'may struggle' to fund care needs
The rising number of older citizens with social care needs, combined with increased demand for health care in general, could lead to a funding gap even if public spending increases in line with national income between 2015 and 2022, according to research published by the Nuffield Trust.
In light of the report into health and social care funding, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) president Sarah Pickup has warned about the discrepancies which exist between the Dilnot proposals and the need to sustainably fund adult social care, and the financial pressures facing the NHS.
She said that the study raises "some stark questions and choices about the funding of different services and options for the NHS of the future".
According to Ms Pickup, questions should now be answered concerning the actual role of the NHS, along with how the health service should be funded in future years.
Among the issues considered in the Nuffield Trust-funded report are whether certain NHS services should continue to be made freely available to the public.
Because of cost pressures on the NHS, which the IFS says is set to endure its tightest budgets for 50 years in the four-year period leading up to 2015, the report's authors indicate that levels of taxation might also need to reassessed so that the organisation can continue to offer certain services.
Commenting on the report, Nuffield Trust chief economist Anita Charlesworth said: "Asking the NHS to take a more equal share of the pain across the public services amounts to an unprecedented productivity challenge.
"If the Government can increase taxation or borrowing, cut the welfare bill further or generate greater efficiencies in other parts of the public sector then the NHS might be in line for a real-terms increase, albeit at a rate that does not keep pace with demographic pressures.
"However, if any of those options are judged to be too difficult politically or too damaging to vulnerable groups and other key public services, health spending will have to fall in real terms."