‘This announcement is a sign of growing anxieties within government as the NHS heads towards a financial crunch in 2015/16.
‘The Better Care Fund is well intentioned but with no new funding, it is papering over the cracks of deteriorating NHS finances and social care budget cuts.
‘The changes announced may ease fears about financial meltdown among NHS providers but will add to the strain on local authorities – this in the week that the latest annual budget survey showed that pressures on social care budgets are resulting in more cuts to services.
‘Sticking plaster solutions will not deal with the significant challenges facing social care, nor will they address the growing funding pressures facing the NHS. Unless significant additional money is found, patients and service-users will bear the cost as services are cut and quality of care deteriorates.
‘As this week’s report from the Health Select Committee again highlighted, this money is urgently needed for a transformation fund to meet the costs of essential changes to services and invest in developing new models of care outside hospitals.
‘With the NHS and social care budgets now under huge strain, questions about funding are becoming increasingly urgent – politicians must be honest about the scale of these pressures and initiate a public debate about the sustainability of the health and social care system before, not after, the general election.’