Following pressure from a group of health and social care organisations, a cross-party commission to review the future funding and structure of health and care services in England has been proposed in the House of Commons. 
 
Former care minister Norman Lamb has tabled a bill calling for a cross-party commission to review the future of health and social care in England, which is supported by two former health secretaries, Conservative minister Stephen Dorrell and Labour minister Alan Milburn. The bill was approved for a second reading by the House of Commons on 8 January and is expected to have its second reading debate on 11 March 2016. 
In an open letter signed by nearly 40 organisations and addressed to prime minister David Cameron, Norman Lamb called for a commission on the future of health and social care to be established, so that the Government can build a model that is “fit for purpose to meet the challenges posed by an ageing society and an underfunded care system”. 
 
The open letter, which was signed by organisations including the National Care Forum (NCF), Independent Age, Care England, Carers UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Alzheimer’s Society and the National Council for Palliative Care, called on the Government to make the commission a reality, address monumental demographic challenges in the UK that mean nearly a quarter of the population will be over the age of 65 in just over 20 years, and ensure there is an NHS and social care system that is fit for purpose. He said that if action is not taken, it is the elderly, disabled people and their carers who will bear the brunt of inaction. 
 
NCF executive director Des Kelly explained his organisation’s support for the proposal: “Despite several attempts to agree the structure to properly integrated care and health and a long-term plan for future funding, this fundamental issue remains in the ‘too difficult to do’ pile. As a consequence services in both the care and health sectors are under severe strain and quality is beginning to suffer. The NCF urges the prime minister to support the proposal to establish a new commission so that we can ensure that care and health services are made fit for the 21st century.” 
 
The proposal was welcomed by NHS Confederation chair Stephen Dorrell, who wrote to Norman Lamb outlining four arguments that support the case for “a new Beveridge Report”, that Norman Lamb called for in his party September 2015 conference speech. 
 
He made the case for a new report, citing a need to develop new funding and management structures to deliver more joined-up and supportive care; to consider implications of the less than 10% growth in public funding for health and social care against the expected 50% increase in cumulative demand and “artificial distinction” between health and social care; a need to ensure “sufficient breadth of political and professional support” for a framework that is agreed across the political parties; and a need to look at how “the whole health and care spend” can be used to best value. 
 
Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green said: “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.” 
 
More information about the “National Health Service and Social Care (Commission) Bill 2015–16” is available on the Government’s website. 
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