£3.8bn NHS Better Care Fund policy delayed after damning Whitehall review

£3.8bn NHS Better Care Fund policy delayed after damning Whitehall review

Review concluded that claims for policy to bring together health and social care services ‘don’t stack up’.

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.

A Whitehall source said the Cabinet Office believed that the claims for the Better Care Fund did not stack up and wanted “a lot more work done on the policy”.

The idea behind the plan, due to be introduced in April next year, was to bring together health and social care services – traditionally funded by local authorities – in the belief that this would reduce the growing pressures on hospitals and help keep people healthier in their own homes.

The delay in its launch is a setback for the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and local government secretary Eric Pickles, who were supporters of the plan and had been due to attend its launch last Wednesday.

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