Councils and NHS commissioners have moved an extra £1.5bn into the Better Care Fund, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.
The pooled budget for integrated health and social care services was originally set at £3.8bn, but its value has now increased to £5.3bn after local authorities and NHS services moved an extra £1.5bn of their budgets into the fund.
Revealing the figure at the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC) in Manchester, Hunt said: “Local authorities and local NHS commissioners have joined together and painstakingly planned commissioning for adult health and social care with pooled budgets.
“Budgets from the local authority side are for the first time helping to reduce emergency hospital admissions and budgets from the NHS are for the first time helping to reduce permanent admissions to care homes.”
Responding to the announcement Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent Age, said: “We welcome the Better Care Fund and the emphasis on joining up health and social care. But none of this is new money – just existing budgets that are being ring-fenced for this purpose.
“At a time when both the NHS is struggling and social care is seriously underfunded, it will not in itself ensure that the crisis in our health and care system is resolved.”
Hunt also told NCASC delegates that 97% of the 151 local Better Care Fund plans had now been approved by the government. He said the plans should led to 163,000 fewer hospital stays and 100,000 fewer unnecessary days spent in hospital by patients due to delayed discharges.