Swindon AdvertiserServices links still on track (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Services links still on track

HEALTH chiefs in Swindon are to forge ahead with plans to pull together health and social care services despite claims the project has been delayed nationwide after it was branded ‘not credible’ by Whitehall.

All districts were asked to put together proposals to link health and social care.

Under the grant, Swindon’s Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys healthcare for the town, and the borough council would receive £12,675,000 in 2015/2016.

But the new performance-based fund proved controversial when first introduced as it could see areas financially penalised for failing to meet targets.

It was claimed on Tuesday by the Guardian that cabinet office officials were concerned about the lack of concrete details on how the plans – aimed at keeping people out of hospital by providing high-quality care at home - would deliver savings and called for more work done on the policy.

Despite this, and after raising the issue at a meeting of the health and wellbeing board, NHS bosses and councillors chose to continue with their plans to join health and social care.

Speaking at the meeting, Ian Biggs of NHS England said he did not believe the plans had been delayed and that the committee should assume the creation of the fund was going ahead as planned.

“My understanding is that this is the result of the cabinet office looking through the Better Care Fund,” he said. “I think the Better Care Fund plans still need some work and this is a general comment, not just about Swindon.

“The benefits will take a long time to come through and there is a challenge about how radical we can all expect it to be straightaway. But I have heard nothing to suggest that something is going to derail the process. We should keep getting on with it; it is important.”

A Whitehall source told the Guardian plans were not credible enough suggesting they could be delayed.

“The Better Care Fund is based on the idea that if you invest to build up services outside of hospitals based on integrated care, that will help you to ultimately save money from the hospital budget,” he said. “But the plans produced so far don’t show in detail where savings will be achieved as a result of the investment, or that hospitals will be able to reduce their spending.

“Because they don’t, the Cabinet Office doesn’t think the plans produced so far are credible enough and don’t have enough information in them about how the savings will be made, or detailed enough forecasts.”

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