On 1 March 1999 the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care published its report, With Respect to Old Age .

It concluded that 'there is no demographic timebomb. . . the costs of care will be affordable', and that the best way to meet the costs is to pool the risk.

The two key recommendations are that personal care 'should be available, after assessment, according to need and paid for from general taxation' and that 'a national care commission should be set up not only to ensure standards and monitor trends but also to represent the interests of consumers'.

Government, both at Holyrood and Westminster, has delayed giving a clear response.

However, in December, nine months after the report's publication, health secretary Alan Milburn announced that its fate would be determined by this year's comprehensive spending review, to be published in the summer.

While recent announcements on establishing care commissioners north and south of the border, initiatives to foster joint service delivery and improved services for older people leaving hospital are all welcome, they will not eliminate uncertainty and worry for older people.

We urge the government to use the comprehensive spending review to consider how the report can be implemented, not whether it should.

We ask it to do this for those older people for whom further delay means further anxiety and hardship. Time is not on their side.

Maureen O'Neill Director Age Concern Scotland On behalf of: Age Concern Scotland, Alzheimer's Scotland Action on Dementia, Association of Directors of Social Work, British Geriatric Society (Scottish branch), Carers' National Association, Church of Scotland Board of Social Responsibility, Disability Scotland, Help the Aged, Royal College of Nursing, the Scottish Community Care Forum, Scottish Old Age Pensioners' Association, Scottish Pensioners' Forum, Shared Care Scotland, Strathclyde Elderly Forum