Stephen Thornton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, called for the move, saying: 'Twenty years of trying to achieve seamless services for older people have failed the individual, and frontline staff are struggling to provide those services.'
He argued that allowing the NHS to commission social care would make it easier to ensure that people were not admitted to hospital unnecessarily and that they were discharged to the right setting as quickly as possible after they no longer needed an acute hospital bed.
But Jeremy Beecham, the LGA leader, said such a move would be 'a mistake, both in practical and philosophical terms'.
And John Ransford, head of social affairs for the LGA, said: 'To go for organisational change ... would be an error. What we need is improved performance, not the huge disruption caused by re-drawing boundaries.'