Headlines: June 20th, 2013

The King’s Fund has launched a new Commission to consider whether the post-war settlement, which established separate systems for health and social care, remains fit for purpose.

Huge social, demographic and technological changes have taken place since the NHS and social care system were established in 1948. With health and social care services facing unprecedented challenges, the Commission will examine the way that entitlements, benefits and funding are currently organised and whether they could be better aligned to meet the needs of 21st Century patients and service-users.

The Commission will undertake its work at a time when the NHS is undergoing significant change and with proposals to reform social care currently before Parliament. What sets it apart from other reviews past and present is that it will fundamentally re-examine the terms of the post-war settlement which established the NHS as a universal service, free at the point of use, and social care as a separately funded means-tested service.

The Commission will be chaired by Kate Barker, a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and now a holder of a number of non-executive posts. Although it has been established by The King’s Fund, its reports and recommendations will be produced independently. An interim report will be published early next year and a final report in September 2014, in time to influence thinking ahead of the next General Election.

Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘The NHS and social care system have remained separate since their inception in 1948. 65 years on, the needs of patients and service-users have changed and the world is a very different place. The time has come to return to first principles and ask whether the current arrangements are fit for purpose.’

Kate Barker, Chair of the Commission, said: ‘The issues we will be considering go to the very heart of the debate about how best to organise health and social care. I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to consider whether, and if so how, the current settlement should be re-shaped to meet better the needs of 21st century patients and service-users.’