Health Secretary Alan Johnson has launched a national debate on how social care should be funded in the future.

Department of Health figures suggest that, with the UK’s rapidly ageing population, 25% of the entire adult population will be over 65 and the number of people over 85 will have doubled by 2028. This growth in the number of people likely to have care and support needs will put tremendous pressure both on services and on the financial support that they receive.

Unlike most NHS services, social care is not free at the point of use: it is assessed and commissioned or provided by local government, with varying and tightening eligibility criteria. Social care is means-tested, and people needing social care with assets worth over £21,500 are required to pay for their care until their assets diminish.

Financial proposals
Recent documents from both the Kings Fund (the 2007 Wanless Review update) and the NHS Confederation’s report Funding Tomorrow Today have suggested changes in funding. Wanless proposed that the Government should match and top up individual funding, and Nigel Edwards of the NHS Confederation suggested individual insurance-type saving accounts.

Steve Barnett, acting chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The current system of funding is both unfair and unsustainable. Decisions around the care of the elderly and the long-term sick cause genuine heartache for frontline NHS staff. A new system of a sensible level of care backed up by top-ups through social insurance and government support for the poorest would reward those who save, favour prevention over high cost ‘last resorts’ such as care homes, and hand control of how money is spent to the users rather than the funders of care.”

And King’s Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson added: “We really cannot miss this opportunity to have a frank and open debate leading to fundamental reform of the care system. We need to look at radical solutions which will provide better care, promote independence and not penalise those who save. Health Secretary Johnson stated: "Funding is a vital part of this debate, but it is not just about money. It is also a question of individual choice, enabling people to live as independently as possible for as long as possible”.

New technology-based system launched
Johnson also announced the roll-out a £31 million Whole System Demonstrator Programme that will test the potential of innovative IT/telephony-based technologies like telecare and telehealth in supporting care for those with complex health and social care needs.

People with complex health and social care needs such as diabetes, heart and chest problems and the elderly will use the technology.

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Health Secretary Alan Johnson has launched a national debate on how social care should be funded in the future.

Department of Health figures suggest that, with the UK’s rapidly ageing population, 25% of the entire adult population will be over 65 and the number of people over 85 will have doubled by 2028. This growth in the number of people likely to have care and support needs will put tremendous pressure both on services and on the financial support that they receive.

Unlike most NHS services, social care is not free at the point of use: it is assessed and commissioned or provided by local government, with varying and tightening eligibility criteria. Social care is means-tested, and people needing social care with assets worth over £21,500 are required to pay for their care until their assets diminish.

Financial proposals
Recent documents from both the Kings Fund (the 2007 Wanless Review update) and the NHS Confederation’s report Funding Tomorrow Today have suggested changes in funding. Wanless proposed that the Government should match and top up individual funding, and Nigel Edwards of the NHS Confederation suggested individual insurance-type saving accounts.

Steve Barnett, acting chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The current system of funding is both unfair and unsustainable. Decisions around the care of the elderly and the long-term sick cause genuine heartache for frontline NHS staff. A new system of a sensible level of care backed up by top-ups through social insurance and government support for the poorest would reward those who save, favour prevention over high cost ‘last resorts’ such as care homes, and hand control of how money is spent to the users rather than the funders of care.”

And King’s Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson added: “We really cannot miss this opportunity to have a frank and open debate leading to fundamental reform of the care system. We need to look at radical solutions which will provide better care, promote independence and not penalise those who save. Health Secretary Johnson stated: "Funding is a vital part of this debate, but it is not just about money. It is also a question of individual choice, enabling people to live as independently as possible for as long as possible”.

New technology-based system launched
Johnson also announced the roll-out a £31 million Whole System Demonstrator Programme that will test the potential of innovative IT/telephony-based technologies like telecare and telehealth in supporting care for those with complex health and social care needs.

People with complex health and social care needs such as diabetes, heart and chest problems and the elderly will use the technolo