NHS England sheds more light on pooled budgets for health and social care

Local areas will not lose out on performance-related portion of Better Care Fund during 2015/16

Image: Rex Features/Phaney

Local areas will not lose out if they fail to hit their performance targets on the integration of health and adult social care during 2015/16.

NHS England confirmed the move in draft planning guidance that provides more detail about the operation of the Better Care Fund, the £3.8bn pooled budget for integrating health and adult social care services announced in June.

The government had said that £1bn of the fund would be performance-related and local areas that failed to reach their targets having their share of that money reallocated.

But the NHS England guidance says that ministers have now decided not to apply these sanctions in 2015/16 because of “the scale and complexity of the challenge of developing plans for the first time”.

The document also outlines how the performance of local areas on integrating adult social care and health will be measured, although further information will be published later.

Performance measures include the effectiveness of reablement services, avoidable emergency admissions, and admissions to residential and care homes.

The guidance also details the six national conditions that local councils and clinical commissioning groups will need to met in order to access the Better Care Fund money.

These are:

  • Jointly agreed plans signed off by the local heath and wellbeing board
  • Protection for adult social care services, although spending does not have to be protected
  • Plans to provide seven-day services to support patients being discharged and prevent unnecessary admissions at weekends
  • Better data sharing between health and social care based on the use of NHS numbers
  • A joint approach to assessments and care planning
  • Agreement on the impact of the changes in the acute sector

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