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Phased arrangement for social care funding agreed

At today’s board meeting Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreed to phase the implementation of our decision not to make additional discretionary payments to Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) for social care. This means that we will be making an additional payment to Hertfordshire County Council of £4.5m for 2017/18; the original decision would have meant no additional discretionary payment at all for next year.

Whilst both organisations are facing big financial challenges and the CCG is in ‘financial turnaround’, today’s decision recognises the close links between health and social care and the shared agenda to improve the health of local residents through the Your Care, Your Future programme. This phased arrangement will mitigate some of the likely challenges for the county council.

However, the board agreed that there will be no further payments from April 2018 saying the CCG’s legal duty is to commission health care rather than social care. It also determined that the CCG should work closely with HCC to review future arrangements for joint funding, such as the Better Care Fund, with a view to maximising the impact of our spending, for the benefit of local residents. Board members were also keen to make sure that in future any joint spending arrangements are placed on a more robust, formal and transparent footing.

Dr Nicolas Small, Chair of Herts Valleys CCG board, said: “I am pleased that we took the opportunity to have a more comprehensive discussion about this issue and I think we have come to a good and sound conclusion. We absolutely must focus on effective management of our very constrained financial resources; we have a statutory duty to meet financial targets which we have struggled to do this year.

“We will continue to look at how best to do this as it is a key priority for us. There is a good deal that we should all learn from the past few months and I am delighted that we are agreed with our HCC colleagues that we must redouble our efforts – together - to make the best possible use of our funding and this will involve a closer management of joint funding of care for local people. It is really important that we see colleagues in HCC making use of the additional funding we are now going to provide to ensure timely access to social care assessments that patients in our local hospitals need”.

The original decision by the CCG’s investment committee in December was made in the context of an extensive savings programme that seeks a significant reduction in expenditure. Further to that initial decision and following discussions with HCC, with external advisors and internally, investment committee decided at the end of last month that we should re-appraise the issue and take it to full board for further consideration.

Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The reduction in funding from Herts Valleys CCG will obviously have an impact on the quantity of care we can provide. At least now, because of the actions we have taken to scrutinise their decision, we have time to mitigate this impact.

“We are pleased that we are finally able to move forward. This issue has placed a strain on our ability to work in partnership and we are looking to see a tightening of governance, financial and commissioning arrangements between Hertfordshire County Council and Herts Valleys CCG to rebuild confidence and trust. This will enable us to work with all NHS organisations to deliver the Sustainability and Transformation Plan and provide the best care, with the resources we have, for the benefit of all who live in Hertfordshire.”