Ministers have been criticised by two senior members of the medical establishment for doing too little to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Long Term Care.

Dr Brian Williams, president of the British Geriatric Society and Professor George Alberti, president of the Royal College of Physicians, have labelled the care system for elderly people, "a national disgrace".

Writing in the British Medical Journal, they argue the Government has not responded to the challenge set by the Royal Commission and that change is long overdue. The report, published last March, called for the cost of nursing elderly patients to be fully funded by taxation.

The Government, or specifically the Treasury, appear reluctant to pick up the estimated £1bn bill.

Dr Williams said: "There is a concern that the Budget did not address this issue and that is why we are speaking out now."

He added that there is also evidence that the Government's indecision has created uncertainty in the Private Medical Insurance market.

The Government, meanwhile, claims it is preparing to unveil its plans for funding long-term elderly care by the summer.