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Labour creates independent health and social care commission

Labour is launching an independent commission on integrating health and social care, aimed at saving money and improving standards.

It is to be led by Sir John Oldham, known for the Primary Care Collaborative and Healthy Communities Collaborative projects, who has been on secondment to the DH as National Clinical Lead for Quality and Productivity.

Labour says there will be a £29bn shortfall in the health budget by 2020 without more efficient services. The figures are based on Nuffield Trust research.

Party leader Ed Miliband is due to say in a speech later today that the NHS is facing “the biggest challenge in its history”.

According to the BBC, he will say: “The toughest financial pressures for 50 years are colliding with our rising need for care as society gets older and we see more people with chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes and dementia. The NHS will always be a priority for expenditure under a Labour government, but we must make every pound we spend go further at a time when our NHS faces the risk of being overwhelmed by a crisis in funding because of care needs by the end of this decade.

“It means a greater focus on preventing people getting ill and more care being provided directly in people's homes so they avoid unnecessary hospital visits.

He will say individual patients’ care needs should be arranged by person.

He will also attack the Government’s NHS reforms, saying they are resulting in a ‘full-blown market’.

But health minister Dan Poulter has said: “The Government is putting doctors and nurses at the forefront of delivering more integrated and community-based care, and thousands of patients across the country, particularly the frail elderly, are already benefitting from these changes, and will continue to do so.

“There is absolutely no government policy to privatise NHS services. Our NHS will stay free for everyone, and it’s right that patients should get the best care available - regardless of who provides it, giving patients more choice of where and how they are treated.”

(Library image shows Ed Miliband at the A&E unit during a visit to the Homerton Hospital in Hackney, east London. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

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