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Eight areas exit BCF 'fast-track' scheme

Eight areas exit BCF 'fast-track' scheme


The number of Better Care Fund (BCF) areas able to fast-track their plans has been cut from 14 to six, it has been revealed. 

In July the Department of Health (DH) said that 14 areas would be able to fast-track their plans. 

However, only six areas will now test aspects of the BCF before it is fully rolled out across England:

 - Greenwich.

 - Liverpool.

 - Nottinghamshire.

 - Reading.

 - Sunderland.

 - Wiltshire.

A DH spokesperson said plans in the fast-track areas show “real potential,” which is why they have had their sign-off process accelerated. 

However, a spokesperson from one of the areas which has stepped away from the scheme said the "lack of clarity" around the BCF caused them to withdraw. 

Mike Farrar, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA) special advisor on health said he is “disappointed” by the change as this will reduce the scope for potential learning. 

He said: “We believe that the BCF is an essential element of the strategic solution to improving care and addressing the funding problems of health and social care. As such we call on the Department of Health to reinforce the process by which learning from the six remaining sites will be shared in as real time as possible to help other areas plan the effective use of their BCF and implementation of their service redesign.”

Public Finance magazine has reported that areas outside the fast-track scheme will have to supply revised plans to DH by 19 September after changes to the BCF operation. 

The BCF will allow for £3.8 billion to be pooled from the NHS and local government, from next April. 

The government hopes the scheme will relieve pressure on hospitals and council services. At least £1 billion of the fund will be specifically tied to reducing hospital admissions. 

The councils no longer on the fast-track scheme are:

 - Dudley.

 - Hammersmith & Fulham.

 - Kensington & Chelsea.

 - Westminster.

 - Leeds.

 - Rotherham.

 - Torbay.

 - Warwickshire.

A joint statement from Dudley CCG and council said: "[We] made a joint decision to withdraw from the fast track due to a lack of clarity at the time following the change of policy linked to both funding and performance. 

"We remain firmly on course to submit our plans in line with national timetable of 19 September."


Update: This story was amended on 1 September 2014 to include a response from Dudley CCG and council. 


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