The leader of one of the North East’s largest NHS trusts has called on the Prime Minister to tackle the crisis in health and social care funding.

John Lawlor, chief executive of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) – one of the country’s largest mental health and learning disability trusts – has signed an open letter to the Prime Minister demanding she begin a cross-party process to secure the long-term future of funding for health and social care.

The letter, organised by charity Independent Age, warns that “2017 cannot simply be another year where these huge issues are ducked” and that unless the Prime Minister takes “a bolder approach, millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers will continue to be badly let down”.

The joint letter, signed by  more than 70 organisations and leading voices across the health and social care sector, is published on the day that Norman Lamb MP launches a group of MPs calling for a cross-party approach on health and social care funding.

NTW chief executive John Lawlor, who featured as a signatory on the letter sent to the Prime Minister, said: “‘The NHS has served us well for nearly 70 years, but the challenges we now face require us to think very differently.

“I am supporting this campaign to encourage cross-party support for one of the most pressing issues we face – how we can make the NHS sustainable for the future in the face of rising demand and how we can continue to support our most vulnerable members of society.”

The letter builds on calls last week from three Select Committee chairs, Sarah Wollaston MP (Health Committee), Meg Hillier MP (Public Accounts Committee) and Clive Betts MO (Communities and Local Government Committee) for a cross-party agreement on health and social care funding.