Older people have suffered “an abominable betrayal” over social care, a leading public health doctor has said.
Professor John Ashton, incoming president of the Faculty of Public Health, said the generation who established the welfare system were being let down by a lack of funding.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “The elderly are frightened of what is going to happen to them. There is a debt of honour we owe the elderly. They fought in World War Two or contributed to the war effort and wanted to create a secure environment that came to be known as the welfare state which is now being portrayed as dependants and layabouts. It is an abominable betrayal.
“Social care has to be properly funded and all parties are avoiding this issue. Without proper funding we are going to have more and more care scandals.”
The prime minister has insisted that the coalition government would set out reforms to cap “the potentially huge cost” of social care, but Professor Ashton called for greater decisiveness.
“They are fiddling while Rome burns,” he said. “We need proper political leadership, strong financial commitment and some bold action, not PR.”
Professor Ashton, who has worked as a director of public health in the North West since 1993, also warned that the reorganisation of the NHS was happening at the wrong time.
He said there would be a lack of clarity when public health duties are split between the NHS, a new body named Public Health England, and local authorities.
“We will suffer two years of blight while we go through another reorganisation.
“We are dismantling the health service at exactly the time when it is going to be needed to care for large numbers of elderly.
“The reorganisation puts the NHS at risk of more scandals because it takes people’s eyes off the ball. I have been in the service for 20 years and this is my seventh or eighth reorganisation,” he added.