Labour will set up an independent commission to examine how health and social care can be integrated to meet what Ed Miliband claims is the biggest challenge in the history of the NHS.

The Labour leader will highlight the gap between NHS and care demand which is expected in coming years, and current funding.

HSJ revealed in January that shadow health secretary Andy Burnham was developing plans for the vast majority of NHS funding to councils.

Mr Miliband will today claim integration is being damaged by the government’s “free market ideology”.

An Independent Commission on Whole-Person Care will be set up and led by former Department of Health clinical lead for efficiency and productivity Sir John Oldham, who is a GP.

Launching the commission on a visit to Lancashire today, Mr Miliband was expected to say: “The NHS is facing the biggest challenge in its history. The toughest financial pressures for 50 years are colliding with our rising need for care as society gets older and we see more people with chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes and dementia.

“The NHS will always be a priority for expenditure under a Labour government, but we must make every pound we spend go further at a time when our NHS faces the risk of being overwhelmed by a crisis in funding because of care needs by the end of this decade.

“When the NHS was in crisis in the 1990s, Labour was able to save it by combining reform with unprecedented increases in funding. We know that budgets will be tighter under the next Labour government. But even in these tough times we want the NHS to provide a better service for patients.

“The changes we propose will ensure that - but they do something else too. They will save billions of pounds which can be better spent elsewhere in the NHS.

“These reforms are necessary if we are going to ensure that the high quality effective NHS, which the British people expect, is affordable in the decades to come.”

Mr Miliband will highlight figures from the Nuffield Trust which show growing care needs will leave a shortfall of up to £29 billion a year by 2020 in NHS funding unless there are improvements in the way services are delivered.

Under the Labour plans more care will be provided directly in people’s homes, there will be a greater focus on prevention and better co-ordination between different branches of the system.

Mr Miliband will say: “In the 21st Century, the challenge is to organise services around the needs of patients, rather than patients around the needs of services. That means teams of doctors, nurses, social workers and therapists all working together.

“It means care being arranged by a single person who you know - ending the frustration of families being passed around between different organisations and having to repeat the same information over and over again.

“It means a greater focus on preventing people getting ill and more care being provided directly in people’s homes so they avoid unnecessary hospital visits.”

In an attack on the coalition’s health reforms, Mr Miliband will say “attempts to integrate care are being harmed by David Cameron’s push to turn the NHS into a full-blown market”.

Labour’s plans will be based on principles of “co-operation and integration rather than imposing fragmentation and free market ideology”.

He will add: “Labour created the NHS after 1945. New Labour rescued the NHS after 1997. One Nation Labour will renew it for the 21st Century.”

Members of the commission

Sir John Oldham (chair)

Former national clinical lead, quality and productivity, at the Department of Health

Richard Smith

Chair at Patients Best and former editor of BMJ

Dr Angela Coulter

Department of public health, University of Oxford, and Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, Boston

Marion Dinwoodie

CEO at Kent Community Health Trust

Hilary Chapman

Chief nurse and chief operating officer at Sheffield Teaching Foundation Trust

Jeremy Hughes

CEO at the Alzheimer’s Society

Sally Brearley

Lay member of the National Quality Board and Sutton CCG lay member; chair at the Nursing and Care Quality Forum.

Ian Philp

Professor of heathcare for older people at the University of Warwick, former national clinical director for older people

Jay Stickland

Head of adult care at Greenwich Social Services

Peter Hay

Director of social care in Birmingham and former president of ADAS

A GP leader will be joining the Commission and will be named shortly.