The Audit Commission wants councils and the NHS to move away from concentrating on the mechanics of joint financing and the processes of partnership and instead look at how their joint funding can improve people’s lives.
The Commission argues that outcomes should be the focus of joint working to help older people and those who need mental health and learning disability services. This means that councils and their healthcare partners must agree what they want to achieve through joint funding. Pooling funds can secure improved services for patients and those in need of social care, but often the actual financial arrangements can become the focus of attention.
Joint funding should not be happening just for the sake of it. But there are success stories, and councils and the NHS can also achieve better value for money this way, which should be an added incentive with the financial squeeze ahead.
Central government promotes joint working to achieve better services, but some councils and NHS bodies complain the joint funding arrangements are too complex. However, the Audit Commission’s report shows where joint financing has worked and makes recommendations to councils, the NHS and the Department of Health to address concerns.
The report advises NHS bodies and councils to review how they provide services for health and social care users and the financial frameworks underpinning them. This December, the Audit Commission will publish the first ever Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA), called Oneplace, identifying outcomes and showing what services are like for people living all over England.
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