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Better Care funding reaches £5.8 billion

Better Care funding reaches £5.8 billion


An additional £1.5 billion of local health funding has been committed to the Better Care Fund. 

The fund was originally set at £3.8 billion but has increased to £5.3 billion following local investment. 

The Better Care Fund is a scheme to improve care and reduce A&E admissions by joining up local health and care services. 

NHS England estimates that at least 18,000 community workers – including nurses, care navigators and social workers – will be supported by the new plans. 

Around 150 plans across England will be used to reduce stays in A&E, keep older people at home after being discharged from hospital, and prevent people from being admitted into care homes. 

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “For years, successive governments and NHS leaders have talked about joining up our health and care services so people get better care at the right time and in the right place. The time for talk is over – our plans will make this vision a reality for patients and help deliver a sustainable future for the NHS.

“Too many families experience being passed from pillar to post, between the NHS and their council, endlessly repeating their stories along the way. By breaking down barriers within the system, these plans will allow staff to work together to prevent people from becoming ill in the first place, meaning our hospitals can focus on treating the patients who really need to be there.”

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles said: “People are happier and healthier when they have family and friends nearby. So investing in care services that are tailored to individual needs make sense. It means people can stay at home for longer, which is better for everyone involved.

“They can also be helped back to health in high quality community care centres or leave hospital more quickly when they do have to be admitted. This will not only improve services and reduce waste, it will give elderly people the dignity and independence they deserve in later life.”

Dr Johnny Marshall, director of policy of the NHS Confederation, said that in many areas the Better Care Fund had acted as a "catalyst" for change. 

Yet, he added: "The BCF still holds particular risks to our members and to the health and social care system more widely. In particular, we reiterate our concerns about the ability of some local areas to achieve the reductions in levels of emergency activity and financial savings that the Better Fund requires." 

Dr Marshall also warned that evidence of financial savings being delivered through integration is "still in its early stages". 

“It will take time for the new models of care to allow us safely to disinvest in existing services, meaning that we will need  financial flexibility and extra resources to allow double running of some services while we move to the new models of integrated care," he said. 

“Nor should we celebrate too early - a number of local areas have had their BCF plans approved but with conditions attached. They will need practical support to help them achieve realistic targets, and there needs to be a proper evaluation of the impact of the BCF as a mechanism for driving integration. In any future arrangement, we would particularly want to see better alignment with the regular planning cycle for providers and commissioners, allowing for practical timescales to allow time for open discussions  to take place between all those involved across health and social care.” 

Dr Amanda Doyle, co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners, the membership organisation of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), said: “We welcome Jeremy Hunt’s announcement that 146 BCF plans have been approved. It shows that CCGs are working well and in partnership within their local areas. These areas, and the CCGs within them, now need to be given the freedom and space to get on and deliver for their patients and local populations.

“In all of this though, we must remember that a plan is just a plan! Getting approval is just the beginning of the journey. What really matters is that local areas make integration a reality and deliver for their populations.”


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