The Department of Health is responsible for health and adult social care policy in England. The Department for Communities and Local Government has responsibility for the local government finance and accountability system. NHS England is responsible for supporting clinical commissioning groups and for the commissioning of NHS services overall. Rising demand for care services and the demographics of an aging population are putting pressure on the capacity of local health and social care systems. One way that the two departments and NHS England are trying to meet such pressure is through integrating health and social care services. Integration aims to overcome boundaries between the health and social care sectors, placing patients at the centre of the design and delivery of their care with the aim of improving patient outcomes, satisfaction and value for money.
Integration of health and care services has been a long-standing policy objective to which the Departments have given increased momentum by recent legislation and policy. With the Local Government Association, they created the Better Care Fund, requiring health bodies and local authorities in every health and wellbeing board area to pool existing funding and produce joint plans for integrating services from 2015–16. The Fund aimed to support adult social care and reduce pressure on hospitals, measured through reductions in emergency admissions to hospitals and reductions in delays transferring people out of hospital. In February 2015 we reported on the introduction of the Better Care Fund, noting that the initial planning for the Fund had been deeply flawed. In the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, the Government set out its goal of integrated health and care services across England by 2020.
25 April 2017