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First details of integration pilot bids revealed

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Councils involved in the community budget pilots are gearing up to become ‘pioneers’ for the government’s health and social care integration programme.

Councils involved in the community budget pilots are gearing up to become ‘pioneers’ for the government’s health and social care integration programme.

The Greater Manchester, Cheshire West and Chester, and Essex pilots are preparing bids to join the select group of 10 areas the Department of Health wants to spearhead more innovative approaches to integration.

The Greater Manchester pilot area plans to apply to be a “pioneer zone” covering its 10 councils, and NHS bodies.

Will Blandamer, a theme lead on Greater Manchester’s public service reform team, said the bid would focus on care for older people.

“We need people in Whitehall working alongside us to help resolve some of the challenging issues around new models of finance, contracting and reimbursement,” he said.

“We need support in developing what models of care look like. Elderly care will be a big part of it. It’s about how you secure the necessary investment in out-of-hospital models of care.”

The Greater Manchester model would also seek extra funding for preventative work, Mr Blandamer said.

“It’s about targeted preventative interventions rather than reactive spend.”

The West Cheshire community budget pilot’s programme manager Lawrence Ainsworth said the area’s experience of community budgets seemed “very similar to the territory of pioneer status”.

“We are talking to partners about pulling together an expression of interest to submit by the end of June,” he added.

Mr Ainsworth said the West Cheshire bid would focus on services for older people and those with long-term conditions.

“It will be linked to the ‘ageing well’ programme that is part of the community budget work,” he said.

“We hope that being a ‘pioneer’ will accelerate work on that front.”

Councils joining the pioneer programme would benefit by receiving technical support to develop new funding and contracting models, he added.

“[Being a pioneer] is also about making sure the financial incentives are aligned so that care can be shifted to the community.”

As part of its plans to boost integration, the government is establishing a central ‘resource unit’ staffed by a specialist group of Whitehall officials.

Ministers expect social care and NHS services to be “fully joined up” by 2018.

Care services minister Norman Lamb linked the community budget pilots to the Department of Health’s integration programme when launching the pioneer scheme last month.

The head of Essex’s community budget pilot Dan Gascoyne said the DH had made clear its interest in community budgets.

“It has recognised the links with the integration scheme. There are some really strong signs that [the pioneers programme] will be co-designed by national and local government,” he said.

London’s tri-borough said it was exploring the idea of bidding to become a pioneer.

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