Integration of health and social care services offers the prospect of improving both patient outcomes and value for money for the taxpayer. Two years ago, we expressed serious doubt that the government’s latest integration initiative, the Better Care Fund (the Fund), would save money, reduce emergency admissions to hospitals and reduce the number of days people remain stuck in hospital unnecessarily. Since then the Fund has failed to achieve any of these objectives and our witnesses displayed an appallingly casual attitude to the targets that had been set for reducing emergency admissions and delayed transfers of care, both of which have actually increased. In practice, the Fund was little more than a complicated ruse to transfer money from health to local government to paper over the funding pressures on adult social care. Integration must now be delivered in the context of the sustainability and transformation planning process. Place-based planning will be critical to the future of health and social care. However, to succeed, the NHS must find better ways to engage more genuinely with local government and local populations.
25 April 2017