Protected markets have no place in health and social care. Despite rumours to the contrary, that was the explicit message of Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health, at the annual National Children and Adults Services conference this week. He said in terms that all sectors, including the third sector, will be part of plans for the future of the new-look, integrated health and social care services. He also said that the NHS had moved from poor to good and that the move from good to great would only happen in partnership with other sectors, including the third sector.

At a conference dinner hosted by Acevo (the body of chief executives of voluntary organisations) with Phil Hope, Minister for Care Services (and former Minister for the Third Sector), the minister said that Andy Burnham clearly wished to ensure the best of the NHS was protected but repeated that to get to great the NHS can’t do it alone.

In many ways that was the overall message of the conference - health needs social care; world class health and care will need to be a partnership between public, private and third sector bodies, and no institution can do it alone; we will all depend on, and be judged by, partnerships with those who actually receive services. Personalisation will see to that.

And that was one of the reasons for Andy Burnham’s very welcome announcement about an end to institutional ageism in health and social care. Personalisation isn’t just for the young - it is for the whole population and, particularly significant for the majority of us - those over 65 - the majority users of health and care services.

As I said last week, having an ageing population should be celebrated; I’m glad the Secretary of State for Health and indeed the Equality Minister, Harriet Harman, agree.

And for those of you worried about how the NHS will be able to meet this challenge, the answer is partnership. We in the third sector are here to help.