Call for Parliamentary Commission alongside Green Paper on social care
Ninety-eight Westminster politicians have written to Prime Minister Theresa May, calling for a ‘Parliamentary Commission’ to look at a long-term funding solution for health & social care.
Among the signatories to the letter are 21 select committee chairs who say the proposed commission could examine witnesses and make recommendations by Easter next year.
The Government is already preparing a Green Paper on social care funding, expected to be published in the summer but the signatories say a broader approach is needed. Totnes MP and chair of the health and social care select committee Sarah Wollaston said the Government needed to act with urgency and take a whole system approach to the funding of the NHS, social care and public health.
“We need to break down the political barriers and to agree a way forward,” said Ms Wollaston.
“We believe this is the best way to examine what funding is needed both now and into the long term and to seek a consensus on the options for sharing the costs.”
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has expressed scepticism about the idea of a parliamentary commission.
“A government could decide to make the tough decisions to fully fund the NHS if it had the political will to do so,” he said.
“Gordon Brown more than trebled the NHS budget in cash terms when we had a Labour government. We didn’t need a parliamentary talking shop to come up with that.”
The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has made the funding available for the NHS pay deal struck last week with nurses, midwives and other staff partly from Treasury reserves.In his spring statement, he stressed he had already injected more cash into the NHS and social care.
A comprehensive spending review, setting out plans across all departments three years ahead is due next summer, with the overall spending total likely to be announced in Hammond’s autumn budget.