Health and care integration needs funding to unlock savings, says CIPFA

23 Oct 15

Integration of health and social care will require significant additional upfront funding to be successful, and the reform is not likely to lead to savings in the short-term, an analysis by CIPFA has concluded.

In a report examining how to better coordinate the current systems of NHS healthcare and local authority social care, the institute called on the government to recognise it would be combining two “financially challenged systems”. As a result, additional upfront funding, or changes to the current charging regime, will be required.

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said the status quo of providing separate health and social care services is no longer viable.

“Major financial challenges and demographic changes mean we cannot continue providing these services in silos if we are to lessen spending pressures and better manage future demand,” he stated.

“So the priority has to be creating a more integrated health and social care system that meets people’s needs while providing long-term financial sustainability.”

Although there have been some promising policy initiatives to achieve this goal, such as the proposed devolution of health spending in Greater Manchester as well as the Better Care Fund, Whiteman called on the government to recognise that integration is not an end in itself. It must therefore not be weighed down by bureaucratic rules and targets, he stated.

“Instead, the government must accept that there will be significant upfront transitional costs and encourage local services to work together, build community capacity, plan for the medium term and focus on prevention.”

Whiteman added that tackling emerging health and social care issues through a whole systems approach is “far more likely to achieve a stable long-term financial position and ultimately better services and outcomes for the public”.

The report, which was launched at CIPFA’s social care and health Conference in Manchester yesterday, also called on ministers to quickly set out the financial and policy framework for integration in 2016/17 and beyond. Ahead of the Spending Review, the continuation of the Better Care Fund has not been formally confirmed beyond the current year.

Clarity is needed to build on the promising start made by the Better Care Fund and the Greater Manchester and Cornwall devolution initiatives, to ensure local momentum is not “dissipated”, the institute concluded.

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