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Targeted joint funding between primary care trusts and local authority adult social services departments is likely ...
Targeted joint funding between primary care trusts and local authority adult social services departments is likely to feature in the Department of Health's national service framework for long-term conditions.

The NSF, which is expected to be published by the end of March, looks set to take a prescriptive approach to sharing and pooling of budgets in order to implement the government's strategy for tackling long-term conditions.

Primary care czar David Colin-Thomé told delegates at a DoH-sponsored conference last week that the government would have to 'add a bit of pressure to the health service' in order to do this.

'The health service tells us it hates targets but it does seem to respond to them,' he said.

Dr Colin-Thomé did not say how the government was likely to go about setting these targets, but HSJ sources said the NSF was likely to play a key part in ensuring that budgets are increasingly pooled.

The national clinical director for primary care told the conference that the health service's 'mouth was more stocked with gold than other areas of the public sector' and that as part of a joint agenda 'some of your [PCTs'] cash should be funding social care'.

Dr Colin-Thomé said that further guidance could be expected in the spring on the role of community matrons, which would also focus on how these health professionals would work across health and social care.

Andrew Cozens, Leicester City Council director of social services and immediate past president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said that government strategy for long-term conditions would 'need to have more investment and support for social care'.

He said the adult social services green paper, expected in the spring, was also likely to focus on joint funding across health and social care.

However, Mr Cozens warned that social care professionals did not 'want the NHS to develop a parallel mutant form of social care- if a target is set for this [then] PCTs in a hurry may target community matrons and bring in social carers with a needle'.

And he raised concerns about whether PCTs and practice-based commissioners would be 'robust enough' to deliver the strategy. He said they would need a lot of additional support both from strategic health authorities and the DoH.

An NHS Confederation spokesperson said that 'encouraging joint funding would be important to integrating health and social care' but warned that any recommendation to PCTs 'should not be overly bureaucratic and take away from local freedoms'.

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