Dr Ros Altmann
Saga's Director-General said: "As our population is ageing rapidly, this will only get worse. Perhaps politicians are hoping that the care crisis will go away – if so, they are sadly mistaken. Warm words and long-term plans will not deliver decent care - radical reform and recognition of the problem are required.
"We must get older people the care they need, specialist dementia care, and not in an acute hospital setting.
"2011 has highlighted the problems as never before, but it has also seen solutions recommended that could put us on a proper path for reform; social care and healthcare must be better integrated, the public must be told that retirement income needs to consider care funding and the NHS will benefit if we can get financial provision improved.
''There will be a White Paper in the Spring, indications are that it may merely make changes that set a scene for 2025 - that is simply not good enough. Care of the elderly in our hospitals is not working properly. A quarter of patients have dementia but the nursing staff have not been trained to cope with that. These patients should often not be in an acute hospital in the first place, but the support system outside the NHS is not in place.
''Improving care funding and encouraging people to pre-plan for care would avoid many of these people being in an acute hospital setting in the first place. Reforming the funding system, along the lines suggested by Andrew Dilnot, would be a great step forward to helping people know that they need to prepare for care and would help remove the fear that currently drives so many of us to just hope it will never happen. The ostrich approach to planning does not work!
''We have cross party support for Andrew Dilnot's report, let's get on with it. If we get care of older people right, by encouraging them to spend money earlier to help prevent accidents or identify any problems at an early stage, we will save a fortune to the NHS, improve health treatment for everyone and improve the quality of life of our older generations. Surely that is a prize worth having."