Report reveals growing role of pooled budgets

Pooled budgets are the most popular way of using flexibilities
brought in under the Health Act 1999 in NHS and local authority
partnerships, an interim report revealed last week.

The act introduced three flexibilities in April 2000 – pooling
budgets, lead commissioning and integrated provision.

By November 2000, 32 localities had notified the Department of
Health that they would be using these flexibilities; 22 were the
subject of an evaluation by the National Primary Care Research and
Development Centre and the Nuffield Institute for Health.

Typical partners were a health authority, a local authority
social services department and NHS trusts. Fourteen partnerships
used mainstream budgets, often supplemented with ringfenced grants
including the partnership, prevention, carers or mental illness
specific grants.

Half were going to charge users for the social services elements
of the partnership. Two said that NHS – as well as social services
– staff would carry out user financial assessments.

Older people’s services, particularly intermediate care and
winter pressure schemes, and adults with learning difficulties were
the most common user groups covered by the partnerships.

Budgets for these schemes ranged from under £25,000 to more
than £60 million. Overall, NHS and local authority partners
made equal financial contributions.

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