The care trust is an NHS organisation aimed at better integrating health and social care and to which local authorities can delegate health-related functions to provide integrated local health and social care.
According to government they are not a takeover of existing health and local authority functions but a “pragmatic way forward” to “broaden the range of possible options” for integrated care.
They are single-system agencies that, it is said, make it easier to build services around patients and users. Initially, they will focus on elderly people and those with a mental illness but the Health Act does not specify their introduction only for single groups of clients. It is also envisaged that they offer a range of models – integrated teams offering care management, assessment and services; strategic commissioning; multi-disciplinary teams with a single NHS and local government budget; integrated provision with sheltered housing.
Care trusts can cover a local authority area, an area of more than one authority, an area covering a population which it registers or they can offer health services but not local authority services.
They are governed by a mixture of local councillors, health managers and patient and user representatives.