Details of integrated health and social care personal budgets scheme revealed

NHS England invites local areas to take part in three-year 'integrated personal commissioning' programme starting from April 2015

NHS England is inviting local areas to take part in a three-year programme trialling integrated health and social care personal budgets.

In a prospectus published today, NHS England revealed details of its ‘integrated personal commissioning’ programme. The scheme, the broad outline of which was trailed by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens in a speech to council leaders in July, will be trialled in at least 10 pilot areas from April 2015.

The programme is based on two core elements: a person-centred care model that will give people the option of an integrated personal health and social care budget; and an integrated ‘year of care’ capitated payment model that aims to shift incentives to the outcomes of a person’s care rather than rewarding levels of activity in NHS or social care services.

People who take up an integrated personal budget could have it managed by the council, the NHS, the voluntary sector or opt to manage it themselves through a direct payment.

The Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) coalition has also produced a guide on the programme to complement the NHS England prospectus. The guide, written by TLAP programme director Sam Bennett, says that, to-date, efforts at joint assessment by health and social care providers have too often led to alignment, rather than integration, of assessment processes. A series of “misconceptions” have also been commonly held over barriers, including legal obstacles, to bringing health and social care budgets together, the guide adds.

To apply for the programme, local areas must prepare a joint bid between NHS commissioners, councils and at least one voluntary sector partner. Applications must be submitted by the 7 November.

Alluding to today’s report on integrating health and social care by the King’ Fund’s Barker Commission, Stevens said: “Kate Barker and The King’s Fund commission has today rightly described the need for more integrated health and social care for people who need care and their families. While the longer-term debate on how we get there is crucially important, so too is the need to deliver for people today.

“That’s why, for the first time since 1948, from next year integrated personal commissioning means we will start offering fully combined health and social care funding, under the direct control of people using those services.”

How integration affects you

Deepen your understanding of the practice and commissioning implications of health and social care integration by signing up for Community Care’s conference on the issue, on 1 October in central London.

David Pearson, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “We have very much valued the opportunity to contribute to this immensely important initiative which will see personal budgets and direct payments – both of which an integral part of the social care offer in recent times – take a massive, decisive and encouraging step forward.”

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