Norman Lamb MP writes… A pooled health and social care budget

This week’s spending review settlement again guaranteed funding for the NHS with another increase in funding by £2.1bn in cash terms for 2015-16. But we know these are challenging times for the NHS and for care services. A&E departments are facing rising demand and local authorities are having to make tough decisions on care. That is why as part of the settlement we announced a £3.8bn pooled health and social care budget to join up care around people’s lives. It doesn’t matter who provides the care – what matters is that people get the care they need and they don’t fall through the gaps between services. This new fund will enable services to work together to help people who use health and care services to live healthy, independent lives.

This is important because as our population ages and we get more people living with chronic conditions and complex needs then there will be more pressure on our A&E departments. We need to provide care closer to home, keeping people out of hospital when they don’t need to be there.

Plans for spending these budgets will be overseen by local Health and Well-being Boards, made up of NHS and local government representatives, to protect access to services and fund transformation to deliver better care. We also need to redesign the way we commission and assess eligibility for services to focus on people’s aspirations and on keeping people healthy. We need to be working hand in hand with people to design the services they need and building on what’s already available in people’s own communities.

I recently announced that we will be selecting 10 areas around the country to act as pioneers for integration, and I am excited about the prospect of working with our pioneers to champion the integration of health and care services across the country. This joint health and care budget will give local areas the freedom and encouragement to drive integration at the frontline.

Liberal Democrats have long argued the case for joining up care – ending the crazy fragmented system which divides mental health from physical health, healthcare from social care and primary care from hospital care. This announcement is the biggest ever shot in the arm for integrated care. I am delighted that this coalition government is making this decisive, historic move which will improve care and make better use of resources.

* Norman Lamb is MP for North Norfolk and was Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health until May 2015. He now chairs the Science and Technology Select Committee

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  • David Pollard 28th Jun '13 - 7:43pm

    It is absolutely vital that the authority and the responsibility for this scheme lie with the same organisation. Else it will be just like Social services, NHS, education, local authorities and police working together on child protection. There is an endless list of the times the structure has failed because NO ONE is responsible for taking the lead. BE WARNED!

  • Anyone would think the government was providing more money for this pooled health and social care budget.

    In fact the NHS – whose funding is rising 0.1% in real terms – is being told to provide £2bn extra towards it, equivalent to about 1.8% of its total budget.

  • I like the local oversight aspect of this policy

  • Dear Norman

    I apologise for writing again on this policy but I hope either you or liberal democrat colleagues will pick up on this, particularly those familiar with mental health policy.

    The new approach which the Government is investing in appears not to neccessarily help the most vulnerable in our communities obtain the support they require.

    The draft Bill as I saw it imposes a duty of care upon local authorities on those considered eligible to access adult care and support. However, the draft criteria, prima facie, suggests this as those with a physical or mental impairment.

    It may be sensible to revisit the draft criteria as it risks re-allocating resources and priorities from those people in our communities who have undiagnosed conditions those those who do. What that means is that adults coping with mental conditions such as autism, alzheimers and other difficult to diagnose conditions risk slipping through the cracks by design rather than defect of the new policy.

    I appreciate the balance may be difficult to draw. However, you yourself identified how individuals with mental health problems faced intolerable delays in obtaining access to the therapy they require in a speech at Party Conference in 2008. You may wish to take on board amendments to the draft Bill which seek to ensure this problem you spoke about is addressed.

    With regards

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