The prime minister Gordon Brown has pledged to provide more NHS and social care to people in their own homes with new guarantees for cancer patients and elderly people.
In a speech to the King’s Fund in London this morning Mr Brown said the government would introduce a guarantee that all cancer tests were completed and the results given in “just one week”.
Mr Brown also announced that the government’s planned reforms to community and primary care health services also included a commitment to provide dedicated “one-to-one” nursing for all cancer patients in their own homes, over the next five years.
He said such reforms to the NHS would be paid for by the NHS achieving savings of £20bn “over the next few years” which would be reinvested in health services, alongside continuing “real term spending” on “front line” NHS services.
But he repeated also his government’s commitment to establish a national care service which would offer similar “universal guarantees” for a given standard of social care at home, ending “the current postcode lottery”.
Social care is means tested, but the government has already pledged to provide free home care for the 280,000 with the highest needs from October onwards.
Mr Brown followed that today by announcing that the government’s plans for a national care service included universal access to re-ablement and rehabilitation services for people who have been ill or had an accident.
He said that would involve “intensive support services, for between 4 and 6 weeks” after a hospital stay, residential care stay, or fall or accident.
He described such a service which is run by Newham Council in London – one of a small minority of councils that does not charge for any of its social care services.
But Mr Brown did not explain how extended social care services would be funded, saying that would be set out in a forthcoming white paper which is due before the election.
A Number 10 source said the government was adamant it would not allow “leakage” from the NHS into social care, so new resources would need to be found to extend and reform social care.
Mr Brown said despite the financial squeeze on the public sector it was “fiscally irresponsible” not to reform social care as the evidence suggested preventative services would save on hospital admissions as well as benefit payments those unable to work due to careering commitments or illness.