Councils are cost-shunting onto PCTs, says NHS Confederation

Councils’ cash problems are having an adverse effect on NHS services, according to a report published today.

More than half of primary care trusts claim their council has tightened its eligibility criteria, leading to more workload for community staff, requests for community-based health services, admissions to residential care and pressure on out-of-hours services.
Only 3 per cent of PCTs thought tightening of eligibility criteria had no effect, the report by the NHS Confederation said.

The report comes after a survey by the Local Government Association last month that said NHS deficits were having a negative impact on social services in more than two-thirds of councils.

Today’s report, Partnership Working: the Facts, was carried out by the Primary Care Trust Network, an arm of the NHS Confederation, and based on a poll of PCT chief executives conducted towards the end of last year.
The report said the confederation was “not shying away” from the financial problems that a “minority” of NHS trusts faced, highlighting that these problems had affected some partnership projects between the NHS and councils across the country.

Just over one-third of PCT chief executives said their financial situation had led them to restructure a partnership project, while 29 per cent said their councils had also restructured projects due to their own council finances.
Overall, 76 per cent of PCTs rated their relationship with their local council as good or very good, with not one PCT rating their relationship as poor.
David Stout, director of the Primary Care Trust Network, said he was “frustrated” that NHS organisations were being accused of cost-shunting by councils when there were “problems on both sides.”
He added: “What is important is that we work together in partnership to get to grips with this reality and try to resolve problems together. The NHS and local government are trying to deliver a tough health and social care agenda within a cash limited system – our joint priority must be to continue to provide good services to local people. Shifting the blame helps no-one – least of all the communities we serve.”

Responding to the report, councillor David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “This is not a name, blame and shame game. Councils do not want to start a war of words with the NHS. The only way we will overcome these worrying problems is to work closer together to deliver the right services to local people at the right time and in the right place.”

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