Spending more NHS money on community health programmes and social care would reduce the burden placed on hospitals by patients including dementia sufferers, according to a new report.
But the coalition has failed to remove barriers which prevent health and social care from being more closely integrated, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said.
The controversial Health and Social Care Bill – which is currently being debated in parliament – could further "undermine" efforts to link NHS and care services by failing to break down existing barriers to co-operation, the report warns.
The number of people aged 90 and over in England is forecast to increase by 146 per cent in the next 20 years, putting a greater demand on the NHS and care services while reducing the proportion of younger people able to provide paid and unpaid care.
Effective community-based services are urgently needed to provide help at the earliest possible stage and minimise the number of people needing intensive and costly care in hospitals or care homes, the report said.
It added that failing to achieve this goal could make it impossible for the NHS to survive.
The coalition has pledged to "break down barriers between health and social care funding to incentivise preventive action", but the ADASS said funding, professional and organisational barriers still exist which could make integrating health and social care slow and complicated.
The report calls for local health and care providers to be forced to work together to deliver a more efficient service, and for care practices to be assessed by how effective they are, rather than how expensive.
Peter Hay, ADASS president, said: “We have heard many calls for better integration between health and care from many politicians over recent months. ADASS continues to share frustrations at the current state of integration: we haven’t weakened in our aspirations to improve the situation.
"ADASS will call for a greater level of debate on how we reach our shared ambition of strengthened and better care in our communities. And a health care system that drives out the inequalities in outcomes that the Bill rightly challenges.”
Sourced from The Telegraph, 19th March 2012.