Local government has given a cautious welcome to the new NHS mandate, on the grounds that it urges the health service to join up health and social care services and to work closely with councils and other agencies.
The document, published on Tuesday, set out the government’s priorities for the health service.
It said the NHS should “ensure people experience smooth transitions between care settings and organisations, including between…mental and physical health services, children’s and adult services, and health and social care.”
In order to do this, the document said, the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) – the body that will oversee local clinical commissioning groups – should “drive and coordinate engagement with local councils” and should work with the LGA and Public Health England nationally.
The mandate also introduces a duty on the NHSCB to make sure local clinical commissioning groups work closely with councils to organise care for people with learning disabilities, warning that the Winterbourne View scandal revealed “appalling abuse”.
It said that following the scandal there should be a “substantial reduction” in the use of hospital care for people with learning disabilities and a shift towards local, community-based services.
The government’s NHS Outcomes Framework, published alongside the mandate, also proposed measuring the health service’s success based on how well it improves “people’s experience of integrated care”.
David White, chief executive of Norfolk CC and co-chair of the Solace health and social care network, said he was pleased that working with councils and other local agencies was “a golden thread that runs throughout the mandate.”
Sarah Pickup, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said the mandate set out a clear way in which the health service and local government could “accommodate common objectives and the ways in which we need to work together to achieve them.”
She said: “There is a welcome focus on engagement with councils and others and on achieving for individuals, rather than organisations.”
However, both Ms Pickup and Tony Hunter, chief executive of North East Lincolnshire Council (left), said they were disappointed that the Department of Health had set separate “outcomes frameworks” for health, social care and public health. They argued that replacing this with a single set of priorities would make it easier for local services to work together.
Mr Hunter said: “We will continue to present the case for a joined up outcomes framework…[it would] symbolise the commitment to integrated experiences and outcomes that all stakeholders share”.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday described the NHS mandate as a “historic step for the NHS”.