The Department of Health has admitted the NHS will collapse under pressure if something is not done to improve the the way health and social care is provided.
It comes after doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham said they are dealing with unprecedented numbers of patients. They say they are also facing big delays in discharging elderly people.
The current situation means the hospital has had to open old wards specifically to accommodate patients who face delays in going home.
The problem is that when patients are in hospital, the NHS pays for them. When they are in the community the council pays for them. Those two groups have different staff and separate budgets.
But it is not just that. If a patient has to be transferred to a hospital in another county another NHS trust must pay for them.
To further complicate the matter, doctors say if an elderly patient from Birmingham is admitted to hospital in, say, Nottingham, they cannot access community care services there because they are not a resident. Instead, they must wait until someone from their local authority comes to assess them. Only then can care be organised in their own community.
The problem is this process can take long time and it means patients can be stuck in hospital for weeks, blocking beds and feeling homesick.
Sheila Brown says she has been told she cannot go home until a bed is put downstairs in her house and a stairlift is installed.
Dr Zoe Wyko a consultant geriatrician at the Queen Elizabeth hospital says it is incredibly frustrating trying to sort these kinds of problems out.
The problem does not just stop with getting patients out of hospital. It also causes a bottle-neck: patients cannot be admitted because other patients cannot be discharged.
Financially, it also makes sense to get patients out into the community.
According to Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust it costs £276 pounds a day to keep a patient in hospital. It is £160 pounds a day to give them the maximum amount of care they are allowed in their own home. Over a year that means care in the community costs £40,000 less than care in hospital.
So, if it is better for the patient, better for the hospital and better for the public purse to get someone back in to the community, why is it so difficult?
The fact of the matter is our population is ageing rapidly. One in 6 of us is now aged 65 and over. By 2050 that will be one in four. Sooner or later, more of us will need health and social care. This is a problem which is not going to go away.