Money to pay for improved care of the elderly will have to be met from the National Health Service (NHS) budget, warned chancellor Gordon Brown.
The warning came as prime minister Tony Blair said the country as a whole should be prepared for tax increases to pay for extra spending on the NHS.
There is mounting evidence that unless more money is put into elderly care, the “blocking” of beds by older patients will continue, with consequences for general care.
And shadow health spokesman Dr Liam Fox has warned that the “crisis” in Britain’s care homes is causing increasing problems for the NHS.
With nearly 47,000 fewer care home places than when Labour came to power, delayed discharges were causing “bed blocking” and cancelled operations, he said.