Curtis-James Marshall, Senior Public Affairs and Media Officer, Future Care Capital

There are less than 10 days to go before the General Election. On the 8th of June, the country will go to the polls to elect a Government that will need to move quickly to deal with long-term health and social care issues. The campaign has been dominated by what different political parties are pledging to do to care for our ageing population and improve health services.

It is no easy challenge for policy makers to respond to the future care needs of our ageing population. The Alzheimer’s Society says the number of people in the UK with dementia is forecast to rise to over 1 million by 2025 – an increase of 40% over the next 12 years.

Policymakers face a significant dilemma – what should be the first act of the next Government to tackle this problem?

Future Care Capital has proposed several key policy recommendations calling upon all political parties to set out a renewed focus on health and care in this country. Although there are already strategic plans in place, or due to be in the near future, for the NHS and adult social care, these plans may no longer be fit for purpose. Technology has increasingly become an enabler for improved service outcomes. Future Care Capital believes that policymakers should grasp new and emergent technologies to drive greater patient satisfaction.

It is also true to say that public opinion is changing too. In recent polls, health comes out as the second most important issue behind the economy. It is hugely important that the parties have given both the NHS and adult social care services the prominence they deserve as the public policy response is crucial if we are to have a system that works for every generation. The manifestos did not disappoint. The main political parties promised a combination of more money for health and care services and some new ways of delivering key services.

Future Care Capital produces evidence-based research to advance current thinking on health and care policy. Driving a unification agenda is our primary focus – this could be achieved by appointing an independent Health and Care Commissioner and creating a new Commission for Innovation in Health and Care, to report across Whitehall. These two separate, but complimentary policy vehicles, could drive alignment in the provision of health and care services so that the next Government can deliver the right level of support fit for current and future generations.

Both the Commissioner and Innovation Commission could focus on:

Health and Care Commissioner

  • Working with NHS England, Department of Health, local authorities, other arms-length bodies and our recommendation for a commission on innovation in health and care. A new Commissioner could help coordinate the next Government’s action plan for a future unified response to health and care that addresses the public need.

Innovation Commission

  • This commission is a route to delivering an enhanced strategic plan for technology in health and care. The composition of the commission should be on a cross-party basis, including the appointment of representatives, from across all sectors, with an expertise in this area. A commission of all the talents ought to set out an ambitious programme for the transformation and use of technology across health and care. Future Care Capital believes that now is the time to further deploy new and emergent technologies to improve patient outcomes and drive efficiency in the care system.

These functions have clearly resonated with the main political parties as they have pledged to create bodies with similar functions. Labour has set out a new ‘Office for Budget Responsibility for Health’, a new ‘National Care Service’, as well as a quality, safety and excellence regulator dubbed ‘NHS Excellence’. The Liberal Democrats have suggested a cross-party health and social care convention, whilst the Conservatives have opted to extend the scope of the Care Quality Commission to cover the health-related services commissioned by local authorities, and will legislate for an independent healthcare safety investigations body in the NHS.

This General Election has demonstrated that the main political parties are alert and concerned about the long-term health and care policy challenges we face. Future Care Capital believes they could go further and completely overhaul the current system by opening up decision-making to more impartial, expert advice on the major long-term challenges right across the sector. Only by engaging with a number of different Government departments, industry, interest groups and other stakeholders to promote health and care on future needs and solutions can the long-term challenges of our ageing population be resolved.

Find out more about our General Election recommendations here.