Hft calls for scrapping of ‘perverse’ commissioning practices in adult social care


Hft has called for the scrapping of “perverse” commissioning practices that are “negatively impacting” productivity and financial stability in the adult social care sector.

The national learning disabilities charity said the majority of commissioning continues to be input-based by-hour contracts and there is “no incentive” for providers to innovate or deliver anything other than one hour of support.

As a result, health and social care is at the bottom of the list when it comes to productivity levels across all industries in the UK economy, according to the Office of National Statistics.

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This is having an impact on the financial viability of providers, Hft said in its new report, ‘Improving outcomes, enhancing care’, which was published with the support of Tunstall Healthcare.

“The low fee per-hour model of commissioning keeps productivity low,” said Hft CEO Robert Longley-Cook.

“Many local authorities, themselves seeking to reduce the amount they spend on individual care packages in response to growing demands on their budgets, have created a perverse system whereby providers who are able to drive down the cost of support while still maintaining high standards, are often penalised for their efforts by seeing the savings go to the local authority while their margins are reduced, adding to their financial instability.

“There is no way at the moment that the current structure funds innovation, training and up-skilling, so there’s got to be a change.”

Hft has called for a new way of commissioning by encouraging providers to explore innovative models of support that maintain or enhance the quality of care being received by an individual.

It argues that care providers should be allowed to retain a portion of those cost efficiencies.

“Providers would be encouraged to invest in the future support of these individuals and, if the resulting innovations mean that better care can be provided for less money, then those providers should be allowed to enjoy a return on their investment,” Hft said.

“This would create something of a virtuous circle, where greater innovations result in lower costs, which in turn would see larger returns on investment to invest in future service provisions.”

Speaking in Parliament earlier this week, Hft and Tunstall Healthcare made a case for a ‘Sector Deal’ for the learning disability sector that could stimulate investment in assistive technologies and transform the way care is delivered.

Sector Deals are partnerships between the government and industry on sector-specific issues which can create opportunities to boost productivity, employment, innovation and skills.

Caption: Hft CEO Robert Longley Cook (L) and Tunstall Healthcare managing director Gavin Bashar (R) launch their new report in Parliament. William (C) shared his experience of how technology helped him live independently.

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Sarah Clarke

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