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Health and social care for older people: progress, problems and priorities

Richard Humphries (Assistant Director, Policy Department, The King’s Fund, London, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to describe the principal challenges facing the health and care system in England arising from an ageing population, assess the track record of the coalition government in addressing these and offer a perspective on the priorities likely to be faced by the next incoming government in relation to health and social care for older people.


Assessment of key policy documents and legislation and interpretation of published data on trends in health and social care activity and expenditure.


An ageing population requires a fundamental shift towards a new model of care that offers better coordinated care and promotes independence and healthy ageing. The Care Act 2014 is a significant achievement and NHS spending has been protected, but resulting cuts to local government budgets have since sharp reductions in social care for older people. The next incoming government will need to address a deepening financial crisis in health and care system; the increasingly unsustainability of means tested and rationed social care alongside universal free health care; and the need to make faster progress in developing a new models of integrated care closer to home.


The issues raised in this paper affect older people as voters, tax payers and as existing or potential users of health and social care services. As a group they will attract significant attention from political parties in the next election campaign.



Humphries, R. (2015), "Health and social care for older people: progress, problems and priorities", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 27-31.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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