Critics of the Government are likely to argue that diverting money from the NHS to help councils pay for social care violates its promise to ring-fence the health service from swingeing cuts faced by other department. But this criticism is shortsighted.
Studies have shown that long stays in hospital are not only expensive but damaging to elderly patients who often end up there because of a lack of funding for care alternatives in the community.
If health spending is designed to help people live longer, healthier lives it shouldn't really matter which budget the funding comes from.
In fact the anomaly is that the health and social care budgets are separate in the first place. Labour have already announced a commission with a view to ending this – and this is something that the Government should also consider.
They might be accused of another top-down re-organisation of the NHS – but this is one that most health professionals would support.
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