Councils and the NHS should examine how joint funding could help improve health and social care outcomes, according to an Audit Commission report.

Means to an End: joint financing across health and social care, published today, says instead of concentrating on the “mechanics” of joint financing and the “processes of partnership”, councils and the NHS should look at how it can improve lives.

It advises them to review how they provide services and their financial frameworks. It also says the focus should be on outcomes for older people and those needing mental health and learning disability services.

Audit Commission chair Michael O’Higgins said: “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.

“Councils and the NHS can achieve better value for money this way [by joint financing], which should be an added incentive with the financial squeeze ahead,” he added.

Later this year the Audit Commission will publish its first comprehensive area assessment, rating each area on the quality of all its public services.