With a deficit of nearly £500 million predicted for 2017/18, expectations on the NHS to continue to meet rising demand – while maintaining health and social care standards – seem unrealistic, says a King's Fund report.

The organisation examines the current state of health and social care, highlighting the range of potential issues in the NHS that are set to face government as ministers return to Parliament this week.

The UK’s ageing population is impacting on services offered by both NHS and local partners. As demand for these services increases, vulnerable people are left to rely on friends and family with some unable to access care at all. A funding gap of £2.1 billion by 2019/20 is forecasted for the social care sector. The trust calls for the government to integrate primary and secondary care, physical and mental health services, and health and social care.

In response to councils’ planned reduction in public health spending of £85 million by 2017/18 and continued cuts to wide range of services, including smoking cessation and sexual health services, The King’s Fund suggests government protection of public health budgets as health inequalities continue to widen.

Politicians should be more transparent about the reforms and funding required to avoid further deterioration of services, the report concludes. It relays the urgency and sustainability required to change social care funding, advising the government to balance public and private funding to address NHS challenges.

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