Pooled budgets are the most popular way of using flexibilities
introduced under the Health Act 1999 in NHS and local authority
partnerships, an interim report revealed.
The act introduced three flexibilities in April 2000 – pooled
budgets, lead commissioning and integrated provision. By November
2000, 32 localities had notified the department of health that they
would be using these flexibilities; 22 were the subject of an
evaluation by the National Primary Care Research and Development
Centre and the Nuffield Institute for Health.
Typical partners were a health authority, a local authority
social services department and the NHS trust. Fourteen partnerships
used mainstream budgets, though they were often supplemented with
ringfenced grants including the partnership, prevention, carers or
mental illness specific grants.
Half were planning to charge users for the social
services-related elements of the partnership. Two said that NHS, as
well as social services, staff would carry out user financial
Services for older people, particularly intermediate care and
winter pressures schemes, and adults with learning difficulties
were the most common user groups covered by the partnerships.
Budgets of these schemes ranged from under £25,000 to over
£60 million. Overall, NHS and local authority partners made
equal financial contributions.