The NHS will be unable to meet councils’ demands for increased social care funding for learning disability services, a sector leader has indicated.
Yvonne Cox, policy lead on learning disabilities for the NHS Confederation, was responding to the concerns of adults’ services directors that money earmarked for transfer from primary care trusts to councils would not be enough.
‘Difficult and sensitive negotiations’
She said negotiations over budgets were “difficult and sensitive” due to the pressures councils faced as demand for learning disability services rose.
Under the Department of Health’s Valuing People Now agenda, from 2009-10 money now allocated to PCTs to fund social care for people with learning disabilities should be transferred to councils.
‘Unexpected variations’ in funding
The deadline for agreeing how much would be transferred was 31 March. But the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has warned of “wide and unexpected variations” in sums allocated for transfer by PCTs.
Adass has called for an investigation into the funding, due to pass to councils during the 2009-10 financial year, claiming it would not be enough to implement the Valuing People Now programme, whose goals include personalising care and improving employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities.
Cox said PCTs should be passing over what they have historically spent on social care for people with learning disabilities, but added that this may not meet needs. She said the NHS was under similar funding pressure to councils.
“There are enormous anomalies in terms of how much is spent [by the NHS] on learning disabilities,” Cox said. “But you could look at almost every clinical area you like and you will find anomalies because there aren’t standard spend figures for any care group, disease group or treatment.
“What tends to happen is when there isn’t enough money to go round you can spend a lot of time arguing about that. I would prefer that people actually got on and worked together and agree they’ve got a shared problem.”
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