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31.10.14

NHS has a responsibility to help councils financially – health secretary

The NHS has a responsibility to help councils cope with a “tough financial settlement” in working together to deliver services to vulnerable people, the health secretary has said.

Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services conference in Manchester yesterday, Jeremy Hunt said that the NHS was prioritised by having its budget protected, which meant tougher settlements for other departments – including the funding for local government.

“But the interconnected relationship between the services we both offer to vulnerable people means that we in the NHS have a responsibility, as we move to fully integrated services, to help you [in local government] deal with a tough financial settlement,” he said.

“If we operate in financial silos, the costs will be higher for both of us.”

Hunt added there would be “no sustainable future for the NHS without a sustainable future for social care” and there would be “no sustainable future for social care without a strong NHS”.

He said: “That’s why the Better Care Fund has tremendous strategic importance and it’s right that we celebrate its early success.”

The health secretary also called for joint commissioning between local authorities and CCGs, as previously reported by PSE. Using a model similar to that employed by the Better Care Fund he sees the future of CCGs as being “the spider in the centre of the web”, jointly commissioning public health and children’s services with councils and primary care with NHS England, in addition to their current secondary care commissioning duties.

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