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Quarter of Britons believe residential care is free

18 September 2009

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Britain faces a healthcare “timebomb” as the NHS struggles to cope with an ageing population, the health secretary has warned.

Andy Burnham said huge pressures were being put on existing care services in the UK by more people living to an an older age, and proposed a National Care Charter to help manage the problem.

“The system is creaking at the seams and can’t cope. We’re proposing a system that is simple, fair and affordable for everyone. We know that people worry about getting old but many don’t realise they might have to foot a large bill if they need care.”

A recent poll by the Department of Health seemed to confirm Mr Burnham’s claims, revealing that more than a quarter (26%) of people thought residential care would be paid for by the government.

Such support, while financed in part by the state, is means-tested, and anyone possessing assets of more than £23,000 can expect to pay some costs, which can reach up to £200,000 for dementia sufferers. The average cost of care for a 65-year-old is £30,000.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Department of Health – Social Care