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Fund social care or hospitals will face undue pressure, says NHS Confederation chair

NHS Confederation chair Stephen Dorrell has written to chancellor George Osborne calling for a 'critical leap of logic' in the forthcoming spending review

NHS Confederation chair Stephen Dorrell has called for investment in social care and public health in the government’s upcoming spending review. The investment is needed to help hospitals avoid ‘unnecessary pressure’. 

The former health secretary and chair of the health select committee, has sent a letter to chancellor George Osborne calling for a ‘critical leap of logic’ in the spending review.

The results of the spending review will be published on November 25. 

Mr Dorrell said: ‘To have NHS budgets rise while social care budgets fall is bad economics and bad social policy. 

‘Without investment in social care and public health, unnecessary pressure is being placed on other parts of the service, including hospitals, leaving an already significant dent in the £8 billion promised to the NHS.’

On November 9, the Department for Communities and Local Government was one of four government departments to agree to cuts in its own spending of 8% a year over the next four years – a cut of 30% in total. 

The cuts do not apply to local authority budgets – which are used to fund social care – but the Local Government Association (LGA) warned yesterday that a similar cut to core council funding would ‘leave councils facing £16.5 billion in funding reductions and increased cost pressures by the end of the decade’.

Mr Dorrell said budgets for social care must be ring-fenced and the government must ‘make the commitment to transforming patient care a reality’.

The NHS Confederation represents 85% of NHS providers and commissioners. 

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said that, in real terms, spending growth in the NHS – projected to rise to an extra £8 billion a year by the end of this parliament – must be ‘frontloaded’ to manage pressures and ‘kick-start service redesign’.

In an interview with Health Service Journal, Mr Stevens said: ‘As of today, considerably more progress is going to be needed before we can say we have a genuinely workable NHS funding solution for 2016/17 and 2017/18, but spending reviews usually come down to the wire, so hopefully we’ll get there by November 25.’

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