The government has renewed its Better Care Fund (BCF) for 2019/20, with over £6.4 billion available in pooled funding.
Social care related delays to patients being sent home from hospital have been nearly halved since February 2017 thanks to the multi-billion investment in integrating health and social care, the equivalent to freeing up almost 1,200 NHS beds, the government said.
The BCF has been used to help keep people living independently at home, provide joined-up reablement services, reduce delayed discharges across the system and achieving closer working between the NHS and social care services.
“No one should be stuck in hospital when their treatment has ended – it’s not fair to patients or their families and places huge pressure on our hardworking NHS staff. The Better Care Fund is an important part of ending these unnecessary waits in hospital, joining up councils and the health service for the benefit of patients,” Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said.
“Thanks to this Government’s multi-billion pound investment the fund has significantly reduced delays to discharging patients. We must continue to work together to improve services and give people the best possible experiences of care, a crucial part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”
The BCF encourages integration by requiring CCGs and local authorities to enter into pooled budgets arrangements and agree an integrated spending plan.
The fund will be continuing for 2019/20 with a minimum NHS contribution from CCGs of £3.84 billion, with average delayed transfers of care targeted at 4,000.
The government said it is looking at the how the fund might operate in the future to make sure it works as well as possible beyond 2020.
Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak MP, said: “The Better Care Fund has made a real difference by enabling more people to be cared for at home sooner after treatment, freeing up much-needed hospital beds. This is testament to the hard work of local authorities, the NHS, and social care providers working together.”