A £3.8bn fund for health and social care integration may not be handed straight to local authorities as previously assumed, the finance director of NHS England has said.
Paul Baumann told the organisation’s board meeting last week that his former “simplistic assumption” that councils would hold the budgets might be inaccurate. “It’s not a foregone conclusion that the money will simply go straight across and be held by the local authority,” he said. “It’s much more open than that.”
He added that there was now a “shared determination” that the funding should be routed through clinical commissioning groups. Under current legal arrangements NHS England would have to transfer the funds directly to local authorities, but it has asked the Department of Health to help identify ways to route the funding through CCGs.
The fund, announced as one of the flagship measures in last month’s spending review, aims to reduce demand for NHS services by encouraging better joint working between the health service and local authority-run social care.
Mr Baumann said at the meeting that the decision about which organisations should hold the new budget was “not an administrative matter”, but rather “an important part of making sure the ownership of this, and the ability to influence the way in which the money is spent and the outcomes… reflects the CCG as the local representation of clinical leadership in the health service.”