Joint commissioning problems for trusts

Children’s trust pathfinders have faced problems involving schools and GPs in the joint commissioning of services, a government-sponsored evaluation of the 35 areas has found.

The three-year study by the University of East Anglia said more needed to be done to increase mutual understanding of joint commissioning by children’s professionals and agencies, including head teachers and GPs.

It found that no pathfinders were providing much practical support on commissioning to schools and that this needed further work.

Practice-based commissioning, under which GPs are given virtual budgets for services, was yet to impact on pathfinder areas across the board. But two said that it was an “added complication” for the management of local funding for children’s services, particularly if it was not joined-up with local plans for children’s services.

The study also found that negotiation skills were “essential” for children’s trust pathfinder managers for engaging head teachers and GPs in particular.

Different pathfinders brought together different resources for specific services using pooled budgets, but only four pathfinders had aligned or pooled budgets for all children’s services.

It also found that while financial pressures in health had constrained service development, legal arrangements had protected children’s funding from being used to plug wider NHS deficits.

Further information
The National Evaluation of Children’s Trusts Pathfinders

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