by Dr. Ros Altmann
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Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, the over-50s organisation, said "Unless Andrew Dilnot's recommendations are taken seriously, acted upon, and not dismissed by politicians as being too hot to handle, then we face a care catastrophe that will make the pensions crisis look like a minor problem by comparison."
"Care has always been the health sector's poor relation in the eyes of the policymakers, but to the people whose relations are in need of care, care funding is essential. If anybody doubts the status of care as the poor relation, you need only to follow the figures.
"In 1901 you could barely fill a football ground with the population of over-85s - there were just 61,000. In 2011 there are 1.5 million and in 20 years there will be 2.5million. The issue of care is huge, escalating, and relentless. It must not be kicked into the long grass because ministers consider it to be too hot a political potato.
"Failing to fund care will have dire ramifications for the health service, and the economy. Keeping an older person in a hospital bed costs £3000 a week, but caring for somebody outside hospital is under £1000 a week.
"We have spent so much on health to keep people alive longer but we now need to ensure we increase resources for care, so the increasing numbers of older people can be properly looked after with dignity and preferably in their own home. If care funding is not addressed then the NHS will be overwhelmed. As the population of older people soars, a new approach is desperately urgent.
"£83 billion is spent on social security benefits for older people, and £50 billion on the health service - but just £8 billion on social care.
"In recent years the NHS budget has grown but local authority care funding has been cut. It is crucial that more spending is directed towards prevention and intervention - 70% of emergency hospital admissions are down to over-65s who have had falls; such huge costs to the health service could be prevented by the provision of appropriate care and accommodation for older people.
"It may well be great news that we're all living longer - but it's not so great news that our older citizens face one of the least well supported care services in Europe.
"Andrew Dilnot's recommendations next Monday will offer a real opportunity to address this problem properly. Let us hope it will form the basis of a new settlement for care in this country that we so urgently need."