Lamb sets health and social care funding merger date

7 Oct 14
Care minister Norman Lamb has set a target for all spending on health and social care to be pooled into one budget by 2018.


By Richard Johnstone in Glasgow | 7 October 2014

Care minister Norman Lamb has set a target for all spending on health and social care to be pooled into one budget by 2018.

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat party’s annual conference, Lamb said the current divide between the funding for the NHS and council-commissioned social care services ‘makes no sense’, and the Better Care Fund – which will pool £3.8bn from next April – was a step towards a full merger.

However, he said that it should be up to local areas to decide how this merged budget is spent, and who commissions the services. There could be no single model imposed from the centre, such as the creation of a National Health and Care Service.

Lamb said: ‘I want to encourage the development of integrated care organisations with the acute hospital coming together with primary care, mental health and community services with agreements to share the risks and rewards of more effective joint working. Not imposed from Whitehall but encouraging diversity and local dynamism.’

‘And this government is putting its money where its mouth is: our Better Care Fund brings together health and social care. It has got every part of the country developing their own plans, pooling their share of £3.8bn, focusing on joining up care: 7-day working, sharing information to improve care, preventing crises in care and reducing admissions to hospital.

'I want the entire health and care budget pooled by 2018. The divide makes no sense.'

This merger of funding was one of five big changes that were needed to protect, sustain and improve the NHS, Lamb said.

Among other reforms needed were a shift from treatment to prevention, an increase in the personalisation of service, greater collaboration, and a genuine focus on what is best for patients, he said. This could lead to the creation of single personal budgets covering both NHS and care in a single personal service.

Lamb also highlighted action taken by the government to ensure that mental health provision was given the same priority as physical health. He highlighted that in many parts of the country there were either long waits for NHS mental health services, or the provision did not exist at all.

He indicated that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will use his conference speech tomorrow to make an announcement on improvements to mental health services.

‘The impact that we could have on so many people's lives is immense. In many areas exciting things are happening to tackle the bias against mental health,’ Lamb added.

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