The government has been urged to rethink its opposition to extending individual budgets to health services, after the Conservatives backed the idea.
Jon Glasby, head of social care partnerships at Birmingham University’s health services management centre, said it would be a “positive step forward for an unnecessarily disjointed system”.
The Tories made the call in a policy paper on the NHS last week, in which they also said councils should commission health as well as social care from pooled budgets, where appropriate.
Individual budgets are being piloted in 13 areas, and include six funding streams, including social care and Supporting People, though exclude health. The government fears including health would lead to some NHS services being paid for, rather than free at the point of delivery, breaching the service’s founding principle.
But Glasby pointed to five areas where the idea could be piloted: learning disabilities, continuing care, mental health palliative care and maternity services.
Anna Coss, assistant director of social services and head of strategic commissioning and performance at West Sussex County Council, said the Conservatives’ recommendation was broadly in line with the philosophy of integration.
“The whole personalisation journey is definitely on the move and, overall, continued thinking in this area has to be welcomed.”
However, Coss said it was important not to “underestimate the complexity” that this would entail.
“While it is possible to have a future strategic view, the journey would be quite complicated,” said Coss
It would require new legislation and very significant leadership across both health and social care, given cultural and political differences, she added.
Call for debate on health charges