Plymouth City Council has pooled its entire social care budget with the local NHS and transferred all of its adult social care workforce to a community health provider in a drive to develop integrated services.

The council and the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group started jointly commissioning health and wellbeing services from a £460m pot last week.

Social care

Statutory responsibility for the services will remain with the council

The pot contains the whole of the council’s £120m “people” budget, which includes children’s and adult’s social care as well as housing and community safety.

In addition, 172 adult social work staff have transferred to Plymouth Community Healthcare, a community interest company which provides community and mental health services. It will provide adult social care services under a contract with the council.

Council director for people Carole Burgoyne told HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle this was a “significant” change in the way public services are delivered in Plymouth.

She said: “The whole basis of our integration has been how do you create services that wrap around individuals, that go from prevention through to those people who need urgent care?

“We have got a big vision for this city about how we deliver the whole of our health and wellbeing services.”

The pooled budget will see the council and CCG jointly commission acute, community and mental health services, as well as social care and wellbeing services. The city’s acute provider, Plymouth Hospital Trust, has had major financial problems and it is forecasting a deficit of £14m for 2014-15. Ms Burgoyne said detailed risk sharing agreements were in place with the CCG to ensure council funding did not get sucked into paying for acute care.

The staff transfer, which took place last week, will see the workforce retain existing terms and conditions and access to the local government pension scheme.

Statutory responsibility for the services will remain with the council which will continue to employ a director of adult social care and a small team to oversee the contract with Plymouth Community Healthcare, as well as a handful of other functions such as the adult safeguarding board.

Steve Waite, chief executive of Plymouth Community Healthcare, told LGC health and social care staff would work together over the next year to design and develop integrated services. He said health staff were enthusiastic about working more closely with social care colleagues.

“We are going to spend the next 12 months working with health and social care staff to see what’s the best fit for the needs of individual citizens because there are different challenges in different parts of the city,” he said. “We have got a real opportunity to look at everything that we are doing and gradually begin to integrate.”

The council and the CCG had previously estimated they could save between 3 and 7 per cent on commissioning services in 2015-16 as a result of integrating budgets.

Ms Burgoyne told LGC she anticipated savings would emerge as new ways of working were found.