Hospital Dr News

Red tape strangling Better Care Fund’s aim of integrating health and social care

The Government’s £5.3bn Better Care Fund (BCF), designed to promote the integration of health and social care services, is being held back by too much red-tape.

This is the finding of a Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) report which reveals that although the fund has already begun to produce improved working relationships between NHS bodies and local public services, more needs to be done to simplify the process.

The report, called The Better Care Fund – Six Months On, says complicated governance and unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved are affecting its implementation.

In the response to the survey results, HFMA and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy recommends the following:

– Simplify and streamline the administrative and monitoring arrangements of the BCF prior to 2016/17.

– Ensure there is maximum synergy between BCF and the emerging devolution programme, which is likely to prove the most sustainable model for taking forward integration at scale.

– Use the lessons learnt from the BCF so far in plans for full integration of health and social care by 2017 to be implemented in 2020.

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA Chief Executive, said: “Government must do more to support effective governance of the Better Care Fund. This is a real opportunity to get health and social care working together – focusing on prevention before cure – saving lives, time and money.

“I commend the aim of the Better Care Fund but its administration must be simplified to if it is to deliver a meaningful impact.”

The report is based on the results of an HFMA and CIPFA joint finance staff survey of NHS bodies and local authorities representing almost a third of BCF sites.

Paul Briddock, Director of Policy, Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), said: “It’s positive that the report shows in just six months of the Better Care Fund being put in place, organisations are already beginning to integrate services and collaborate more. What is now needed as a next step, is for targeted streamlining and simplification of processes to take place.”

Many of the 48 organisations that responded, representing £3.6bn of the total fund, said they had already experienced a positive improvement in dialogue across local public sector bodies.

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