Whitehall ‘wellbeing’ department should join up health and social care provision

28 Jun 16

Greater collaboration and integration between government departments and the NHS is needed to improve health and social care delivery across the UK, according to a “high-level” review.

The strategic review, published today was led by a panel comprising former local government secretary Hazel Blears, former chair of the Mental Health Act Commission Lord Patel and mental health practitioner and researcher Dr Jonathan Bashford.

It focuses on ‘breaking down’ inter-departmental boundaries, optimising physical health estates, and assesses the impact of increased devolution to local authorities.

The review, entitled Breaking Barriers: Building a sustainable future for health and social care, recommends the creation of a new Department for Communities and Wellbeing to manage an integrated health and social care budget. This would enable Cabinet-level collaboration through the use of “shared funding arrangements as part of a common pooled resource for health and social care”.

This should be replicated at local levels with single commissioning authorities covering both local authority and health services. 

It suggests a “practical and effective” model for service transformation and asset organisation across local government and the NHS, which “could help bridge multi-billion pound funding gaps and unlock wider opportunities for public sector reforms”.

Blears said: “Now is the right time for a new approach and a model of change that will put those who use services at the centre and build a sustainable future for health and social care.”

Increased devolution of health and social care funding was “a real opportunity to think afresh and to create new integrated models which save money and improve lives”, she added.

Patel added: “Extreme financial pressures are being brought to bear on health and social care funding for the NHS and local government – amid ever-increasing demographic demand and the pressing strictures of the NHS Five Year Forward View.

“To have hope of surmounting the challenge, we need new ways of delivering public services that are collaborative, integrated and innovative and which offer realistic, practical and replicable solutions.”

Did you enjoy this article?