Huge rise in health and social care spending predicted
Published on 31 January 2013 11:30 AM
Half of public money could go towards health and social care in 50 years' time, an influential think tank claims.
Analysts at The King's Fund based their projections on economic growth and current levels of taxation and Government expenditure.
They said that by 2060, 50% of Government revenue could be allocated to looking after and treating people, a huge increase from the 20% currently spent.
Population changes, increases in wealth, and medical advances have all contributed to increasing pressure to spend more on health and social care. The report says 'ageing of the population is also a factor, although of much less importance than is generally supposed', underlining that increasing health care costs 'will largely be driven by other factors'.
However, the authors said such dramatic increases could be avoided by making some 'difficult choices', including possibly increasing taxation or cutting back on the scope of publicly-funded services.
John Appleby, chief economist at The King's Fund and author of the report, said: 'While there is nothing inevitable about spending on health and social care continuing to increase in line with historic trends, the pressure to spend more is likely to see it consuming an ever-larger proportion of national income.
'It is time to think much more long-term about how much we should spend, the benefits of this spending and how it should be paid for.
'By turning the spotlight on these issues now, we hope to stimulate an informed debate about the difficult choices ahead.'
'The NHS must change'
Mr Appleby called for an 'informed public debate' about the choices and ministers should commission regular reviews of spending pressures.
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: 'There is a growing consensus that the NHS must change to meet the needs of our changing population, make the most of healthcare technology, and live within its means.
'Addressing these issues will require some tough choices and it is essential that we have open and honest conversations with the public about what we can afford in the future and how we will fund it.
'We urgently need an all-party debate about how we can establish a sustainable health and social care system, with radical solutions very much allowed.'
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK commented: 'As this report shows, we have some very important decisions to make about the future funding of health and care. Despite popular perceptions, the increasing cost of health and care is not only because we are living longer.
'However, it does ask serious questions about how we run the health and care services. Integrating services for older people, seeking to prevent poor health and giving early support that prevents more costly interventions further down the line will only become more vital.
'Our prime objective must be that older people receive the right care, at the right place and the right time to avoid unnecessary distress and complications. In the short term this will help to avoid crises such as emergency and repeat admissions and delayed discharge. In the long term this will be the only way of putting health and care services on a sustainable footing.'
Copyright Press Association 2013