Headlines: May 20th, 2013

Plans to join up health and social care provide for closer working but they stop short of creating community budgets and relaxing the grip of Whitehall on local services.

Despite the success of the community budget model in responding to the needs of troubled families and other pathfinder projects across the country, the new plans involve yet another attempt at closer working within existing structures. National leaders of health and care organisations have signed up to a series of commitments on how they will help local areas integrate services.

There will be no further delegation to the local level and all existing structures will be retained. Health and Wellbeing Boards will bring together local authorities, the NHS, social care providers, education, housing services, public health and others to make further steps towards integration.

The plans aim to make to make joined-up and coordinated health and care the norm. There will be new ‘pioneer’ areas around the country to be announced in September 2013.

Partners involved in this initiative include the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the Care Quality Commission, Department of Health, Local Government Association, Monitor, NHS England, NHS Improving Quality, Health Education England, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Public Health England, the Social Care Institute for Excellence and Think Local Act Personal in association with National Voices.

Health minister Norman Lamb said: “People don’t want health care or social care, they just want the best care. This is a vital step in creating a truly joined-up system that puts people first. Unless we change the way we work, the NHS and care system is heading for a crisis. This national commitment to working together is an important moment in ensuring we have a system which is fit for the future.

Local areas interested in becoming pioneers need to make an expression of interest by the end of June. Read the Pioneers expressions of interest letter to find out more.