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Minister calls for legal duty to merge health and care funds


5 June 2014

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Pooling the entire health and social care budget should be a “legal obligation”, according to Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb. 
The Minister said that the Liberal Democrat manifesto will argue that all resources for health and care should be shared in local areas. 
He said that the way money is currently split “doesn’t make sense”.

Pooling the entire health and social care budget should be a “legal obligation”, according to Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb. 
The Minister said that the Liberal Democrat manifesto will argue that all resources for health and care should be shared in local areas. 
He said that the way money is currently split “doesn’t make sense”.
“We should end the dispute about who pays for care. The whole spectrum of care, from the acute end to the social end, is surely interrelated,” Lamb said.
However, he was keen to point out that pooling budgets would be neither a top-down reorganisation nor a top-down restructuring. 
Lamb said: “I would allow each local area to determine how they want to achieve that. The  local areas [should] decide how to maximise the potential of a pooled budget.” 
Dr Steve Kell, chair of Bassetlaw clinical commissioning group (CCG) and co-chair of the NHS Clinical Commissioners leadership group was not convinced, however. 
Speaking at the NHS Confederation Conference in Liverpool, Dr Kell said that “local solutions” are needed, not a “top down edict”. 
“As a CCG lead, I think many would of us would say same thing – we would be concerned about the top down legal requirement. Making it a legal requirement to pool budgets without looking at local needs would lead to a top down reorganisation of commissioning,” he said. 
Dr Kell added: “CCGs are embracing the opportunity to work with local authorities and providers to make services better. This isn’t the case of NHS versus local authorities, we both want same thing – we both want to deliver better services for patients.” 
Many CCGs are already working to redesign and fund social care, which reflects the pressures in the system, Dr Kell said.
Carolyn Downs, chief executive of the Local Government Association (LGA), was more positive. 
She said: “The LGA is very clear that if this agenda is to be successful going forward we do need to have single commissioning and integrated delivery of social care and health services. 
“Although we don’t have a view on the legal requirements, we very much think that local authorities and the NHS should be encouraged to combine the whole of our budgets.” 
And the 14 pioneer sites across the UK will share an additional £1.2 million in funding to “bring in whatever support they need” to increase integration, Lamb revealed.
He said: “We will continue to work with the pioneers, with NHS England, to make sure they continue to achieve results and encourage innovation.” 
Ninety-nine areas across England applied to be a pioneer even when no funding was promised, an expression of the “pent up energy” to make changes, Lamb said. 

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