Following an inquiry into health and social care integration budgets, MSPs were disappointed to find that the majority of Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCP) started the financial year without finalised budgets in place.
The Committee today published a report into the issue and found delays in HSCPs agreeing their budgets has implications for service delivery and for achieving the desired transformational change. MSPs are recommending there should be a clear commitment by the Scottish Government to ensure NHS Boards set their budgets in alignment with local authorities.
The Committee was looking at the first full year of operation of HSCPs due to their key role in integrating health and social care. MSPs wanted to investigate how HSCPs are operating as they begin the process of shifting to new models of care while recognising the first year of operation the change in relationships was always going to present challenges.
The Committee did not see evidence of the shift of the balance of care in the first year of integration and has concluded that this will need more negotiation, discussion and resources if it is to be achieved in subsequent years.
Convener of the Health and Sport Committee Neil Findlay MSP said:
“There is no doubt that the delivery of our health and social care needs to undergo fundamental change. Along with increased demand on services and financial challenges, it is even more important we ensure these partnerships are working for people in Scotland.
“This is why we’ve made some specific recommendations for areas we think need to be tackled if we are to achieve the promised transformational change.”
The Committee also looked at the £250 million given to partnerships to address social care concluding the late timing of the fund and the initial lack of clarity on how the funding was to be used presented real challenges for partnerships agreeing their budgets.
MSPs also supported the implementation of the Living Wage for all social care workers and the Scottish Government’s commitment to its provision in future years. However central to continued provision of this is ensuring the financial resources are there to support its delivery. It is asking the Scottish Government to provide more information on how the costs will be met in future years.
In other budgetary areas arising from their work this year the Committee is asking the Scottish Government to provide detail on the effectiveness of certain spending, how money is being allocated for preventative spend and how health inequalities can be reflected in its draft budget.
The Health and Sport Committee has moved away from the traditional approach of budget scrutiny, seeking to influence the content of the draft budget and the relative priorities given to the health elements. The Committee identified Health and Social Care Partnerships as being a key area of scrutiny for its work over the Parliamentary session. They are aware this year marks a significant milestone in the delivery of change to the provision of health and social care. The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014 sets out the framework to implement health and social care integration and came into force on 1 April 2016.
To read a full copy of the report please click here.