The introduction of free social care for everyone over 65 would save the NHS in England £4.5bn a year and help improve care in the community, a think tank has said.
IPPR argues that this reform would increase the number of people with access to state-funded care from 185,000 to 440,000, reducing unmet need and relieving pressure on unpaid informal carers.
They also claim it would shift hospital patients back into the community, and deliver a higher quality and better integrated service.
While this would mean that spending on adult social care for the over 65s would rise from £17bn a year today to £36bn in 2030, IPPR says that £11bn of this increase in set to happen anyway because of the ageing population.
They calculate that the reform would save the NHS £4.5bn and create 70,000 new jobs. It would be funded by a 2% income tax increase.
‘If you develop cancer in England you are cared for by the NHS, free at the point of need for as long as it takes, but if you develop dementia you’re likely to have to pay for all your own social care – running up potentially catastrophic costs in the last years of your life. This makes no sense,’ said Harry Quilter-Pinner, senior research fellow at IPPR and lead author of the report.
‘By investing in personal social care so it is free at the point of need for everyone over 65, we can provide a better and more integrated care system, one that’s fairer to us all and saves the NHS £4.5bn a year.’
For more on social care see The MJ feature, 'Why we need to talk openly about social care.'