The NHS reforms are back in the news today. This morning Nick Clegg said he would defend the NHS, Ed Miliband said he had always defended the NHS and David Cameron has already said the reforms should pause.
During POPse! we will be asking if we need to go beyond the headlines and the grandstanding to consider the changes to the NHS and to the social care system and how they will be paid for, and how the changes could be good for you, good for me, good for us.
The demands for health and social care in the UK are growing and the debate about how we pay for them is considerable. The current NHS reforms and forthcoming changes to the social care system have, and will continue to attract comment and counter comment from across the political spectrum.
We are set to spend more on health but alongside increasing costs, we also want more influence over the health agenda and a bigger say in the care we receive. In 2008 expenditure on healthcare was equivalent to 8.7 per cent of GDP compared to 6.6 per cent in 1997.
Demographic changes mean that there will be increasing and constantly changing needs for care and support. The demand is not only with the increasing numbers of older people but also with increasing numbers of disabled people of working age. Evidence cited by the Dilnot Commission suggests that the population of people over 65 is projected to grow by 50% over the next 20 years, whilst the number of working-age adults with learning disabilities will rise by around 30% over the same period.
Expenditure (including both public and private) on healthcare was £125.4 billion in 2008 and we already know we need to shave £20 billion off this budget. The forecasts may be designed to shock but they contain an important grain of truth. Somehow, spending on health and wellness and jobs in health are bound to grow, but paying for it may not be met (entirely) by the public purse. What is clear is that more of the same is not an option – radical change is needed. Change brings opportunity and nowhere more so than in health and social care . But, is social care being left out in the cold?
We’ll be considering this and other questions in our roundtable this afternoon.