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Better Care Fund Savings Predictions 'Too Optimistic'

A New Report Suggests The Predicted Savings Of The Better Care Fund Could Be Too Optimistic


A report from the National Audit Office has raised questions regarding the sustainability of the government's £5.3 billion Better Care Fund, which is set to be launched in April next year.

The aim of the scheme is to encourage improved communication and integration between the NHS and social care services to ensure society's most vulnerable patients are receiving the best treatment available, with the least disruption to their health and lives.

One way the government believes this can be done is by introducing significant improvements to community care through the Fund, meaning more people can be looked after in the comfortable, familiar surroundings of their own homes.

However, concerns have been raised with regard to its effectiveness, particularly in light of the fact that the budget allocated to the programme equates to less than five per cent of the combined NHS and social care budgets.

Furthermore, initial predictions for the savings the Fund would bring about came in at £1 billion for the year from 2015 to 2016, but this was later cut to £55 million, before being raised again to £300 million, indicating uncertainty regarding the effect of the scheme.

It is thought that much of these cost savings would come from decreases to the number of emergency admissions to hospital, which are expected to fall by 3.1 per cent when the Better Care Fund comes into play.

Head of the National Audit Office Amyas Morse commented: "The Better Care Fund is an innovative idea, but the quality of early preparation and planning did not match the scale of the ambition.

"To offer value for money, the departments need to ensure more effective support to local areas, better joint working between health bodies and local government, and improved evidence on effectiveness."

Altogether, 151 plans for different local authorities are included within the Better Care Fund, with various ideas in place, but each centres around the concept of social workers, nurses and other community carers working together to deliver the best possible standard of care to vulnerable members of society.

Expert Opinion
The improvement of communication and integration between social care services and the NHS is vital to ensure vulnerable people are able to access the best possible treatment in a simple way. However, the fact that not enough funding may have been made available to ensure the planned measures are implemented is a concern.

“It is vital the savings fund and the plans to use it to pay for improvements in communication and integration of NHS and social care services is analysed further and that the support for the scheme is available, both in terms of capital and resources.

“All too often we have seen the damage caused by a breakdown in communication between the NHS and social care services and it is vital measures are implemented to rectify these failings as soon as possible.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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