One of the largest and most ambitious bids to pool health and social care budgets has been scaled back dramatically after the plans were checked by NHS England.

The £344m merged budget proposed by Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, the county council and Bournemouth and Poole borough councils for 2015-16 has been slashed by 80 per cent to £60m, HSJ can reveal. The new pooled budget is just £5.4m above the minimum requirement.

The scale of their original ambition was borne out of existing work to further integrate of health and social care in Dorset under the Better Together programme.

Its better care pooled budget will be used to support initiatives previously agreed as part of Better Together.

This will include the reorganisation of community health and social care services around Dorset CCG’s 13 GP localities and “in reach” services into care homes.

Harry Capron, programme director of Better Together, said the ambition for further pooling of budgets remained, but strengthening of the assurance process meant the area “needed to move from broad intentions to specific scheme based arrangements”.

“In light of better care fund guidance, which tightens the parameters for planning, it has been decided that the pooled budget be set at £60m in the first instance,” he said.

“The intention to align and pursue integrated provision of services amounting to £344m remains, and the joint commissioning board will be looking to expand the pooled budget as joint schemes get finalised.”

Dorset’s better care fund plan was approved by NHS England on the condition they address outstanding financial and analytical risks.

It aims to reduce emergency admissions by 3.5 per cent this year and a further 3.5 per cent next year compared with 2013-14 levels.

However, the county’s three acute trusts have seen year on year increases in emergency admissions of between 10 and 14 per cent in the first half of 2014-15.