Barker Commission ‘lights the blue touch paper’ over paying for better health and care

Older woman with carerYesterday the Barker Commission published its report on the future of the NHS and social care. Established by the Kings Fund, the Commission was led by Dame Kate Barker, a renowned economist.

The ‘vision’ in her report is one we’d all support: a properly funded, joined up health and care system that would, over time, provide decent social care for many more older people – this against a context in which 900,000 with a social care need are currently getting no help at all.

But the really tough question is how to pay for it? Here the Commission ‘lights the blue touch paper’ by proposing measures like means-testing winter fuel payment and TV licences; imposing National Insurance (at 6 per cent) on those who work past State Retirement Age; and ending exemptions from prescription changes (while reducing prices to £2.50 and continuing with season tickets).


Age UK commented that these measures would mean quite a hit on older people’s incomes. We said we thought many would question how good a deal it was to give up the certainty of money today for the possibility of better care tomorrow. We called for much more detail about what a better system would look like and deliver.

The Commission says that as older people would benefit the most, better off older people should help pay for it, but we especially worry that those on modest means could lose more than they could afford.

For years politicians have been too frightened of these issues to tackle them and the appalling crisis in care we see today is the result. So even if we disagree with some of her proposals, we applaud Kate Barker and the Kings Fund for ‘daring to tread’ into this territory and we hope the Commission’s report will prompt a proper public debate.

3 thoughts on “Barker Commission ‘lights the blue touch paper’ over paying for better health and care”

  1. Bad health is the result of bad lifestyle and diet choices and very little genetics. Rather than pay for those who don’t look after themselves those who look after ourselves should be allowed to opt out of the NHS.

  2. Bad lifestyle and diet choices are known to be linked to poverty and bad education. The logical projection of current policies that target ‘better off’ older people is for all to become dependent on government at the level where we receive means tested benefits. Singling out SOME older people as a scapegoat group for glaring failings in government and health care is demoralising and may result in even higher costs. National cares should be paid by nationally devised policies that do not victimise the old.

  3. Finally why should anyone pay for the NHS – a service which does not recognise prevention as their role and is not looking for innovation but to do more of the same as now – allowing the growth of chronic diseases so that they can then be treated by expensive consultants who doe not communicated between specialties. Chronic diseases are disease of the whole body that build up over years and are preventable. The only money worth investing are in education and professional nutrition therapy practicing personalised functional medicine. See news from US innovators here

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