Better Care Fund
Better Care Fund
The Government announced in June 2013 that from 2015/16 £3.8bn would be allocated to a Better Care Fund to transform health and social care by increasing integration between the two sectors. The funding allocated to the Fund is now understood to be in the region of £5.3bn for 2015/16, as clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities have agreed to add extra funding at a local level.
The Better Care Fund (formerly known as the Integration Transformation Fund) is intended to incentivise the NHS and local government to work closer together focussed on patients. By increasing the integration of health and care services, the Government has predicted that patients will stay independent and healthier for longer, unnecessary hospital stays will be prevented and patients and their families will have more confidence in the service being provided.
The £3.8bn initial budget is not new money but is created by the reallocation of money from:
- NHS funding (£1.9m)
- Existing funding across the health and wider care system (£1.9bn)
- Carers’ Break funding (£130m)
- CCG reablement funding
- Capital funding including £220m Disabled Facilities Grant (£354m)
- An existing transfer of funding from health to adult social care (£1.1bn)
The additional £1.3bn has been provided by the NHS and local government. The option of being able to share additional funding was given by the Government, allowing localities to act in the best interests of the local population. The Commissioning Review reported on 31 October 2014 that localities had taken advantage of this flexibility committing an extra £1.5bn to the funding raising the total for 2015/16 to £5.3bn.
Each locality was required to submit a plan, jointly agreed by the CCGs and local authorities for 2014/15 and 2015/16. Both organisations and the local Health and Wellbeing Board also needed to sign off on the plans to ensure agreement. For 2014/15 the plan should set out how a £200m transfer from NHS budgets to local authorities, agreed by Government, would be used to make progress and drive the plan forward. For 2015/16 plans should explain how the pooled funding will be used and how the national and local targets for the Fund will be met.
The local plans should explain in detail how localities will meet a number of criteria, including how they plan to provide:
- protection for social care services;
- seven-day care services to enable the local population to get care, and to prevent delayed hospital discharges and unnecessary hospital admissions at weekends;
- better sharing of information based on the patient’s NHS number, so an individual does not have to keep repeating information; and
- joint approaches to assessments and care planning.
The final plans for 2015/16 needed to be submitted by 19 September 2014.
The Fund provides an opportunity for the commissioning of a range of community pharmacy services, particularly those focussed on supporting patients following discharge from hospital and helping people to live independently in their own homes.
How it will work in 2016/17
The 2016/17 Better Care Fund policy framework sets out the agreed way in which the BCF will be implemented in 2016/17.
It covers such issues as:
- the legal and financial basis of the fund;
- conditions of access to the fund;
- national performance metrics; and
- the assurance and approval process.
The document needs to be read alongside the NHS Mandate.
Further information on the Better Care Fund can be found on the NHS England website.
Background information on the Fund can be found in PSNC Briefing 100/13: The Integration Transformation Fund.