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This is one of three Health Foundation briefings ahead of the June 2017 General Election, and focuses on NHS and social care finances. It aims to clarify the debate on three main challenges:

  • Funding and social care: how big a problem is it?
  • Funding and the NHS: are two years of famine ahead?
  • Funding for social care and the NHS: how much might be needed beyond 2020?

We summarise the evidence and offer commentary on the options that need to be considered if both of these essential services are to meet the public’s needs in the future.

Key points

  • Social care needs immediate attention from an incoming government. Despite the extra money allocated to social care in the spring budget, the current system is severely under-funded and unaffordable for people on low incomes who are ineligible for free care.
  • Funding for the NHS in England needs to increase in the next two years to protect access to care and the quality of services for patients.

  • Beyond 2020, the pace of funding growth for the NHS and social care system will need to accelerate, taking a greater share of GDP.
  • The briefing also calls for an independent financial body for the NHS to be established, similar to the OBR, to lay out the long-term financial outlook for health and social care, as recommended by the House of Lords’ committee on sustainability.

Further reading