Labour outlined proposals today to merge the NHS, social care and mental health services before hospitals become "warehouses of older people."
In a speech to the King's Fund charity shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the three "fragmented" services needed to be integrated into a single one with a pooled annual budget of £119 billion.
"As we live longer, people's needs become a blur of the physical, mental and social," he said.
He argued that it wasn't possible to separate them and by doing so "some or all of one person's needs will be left unmet" in the current system, which he also said wasn't "financially sustainable in this century."
Mr Burnham suggested that combining services would enable more elderly care at home, citing reports from hospital bosses that around 30 to 40 per cent of beds are occupied by older people who need not be there.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell welcomed the plans but warned they must not come at the expense of universal access and based on the amount of money you have.
"We think that there should be a greater integration of the public health function, so there is a template for providing joined-up services tailored to individual needs from cradle-to-the grave."
She also suggested ring-fencing the money so local councils cannot spend it on other services.
King's Fund chief executive Chris Ham agreed that Mr Burnham's diagnosis is "the right one" but that the proposals leave "unanswered questions, not least how plans as radical as these could be implemented while keeping his promise not to embark on further structural change."
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt added that despite promises Labour is planning a massive restructuring of the NHS.
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