A government policy intended to stop the NHS from becoming overwhelmed has been delayed after a confidential Whitehall review concluded it would not work as hoped. Neither would it help to balance the NHS budget or bring about an intended revolution in patient care.
The £3.8bn-a-year Better Care Fund was supposed to have been launched last week, but its introduction has become mired in doubt after the Cabinet Office voiced deep disquiet about its viability and argued that there was little or no detail about how the expected savings would be delivered.
As I understand it the aim was to integrate parts of medical care and social care. Thus expensive hospital beds could be replaced by much cheaper care at home. Just the sort of thing that all the lefties are screaming about concerning the NHS itself. You know, integrated cooperation across the whole service rather than the balkanisation of markets.
So, what’s the matter with it?
A Whitehall source familiar with the situation said: “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. 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 don’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.”
It appears that we have difficulties in actually identifying any manner in which such integration actually saves anything.
Which does, rather, pose a problem for the idea that the integrated NHS is better than the balkanisation of markets, doesn’t it?