An Audit Commission report published today found that closer ties between Torbay Care Trust and Torbay Council meant that users can now access services more quickly and more urgent intermediate care cases now see a therapist within four hours.
Staff invented ‘Mrs Smith', a fictional older person with health and social care needs, and used her as an example to see how they catered for her needs.
Despite citing the Torbay success, the Audit Commission report ‘Means to an End: Joint Financing Across Health and Social Care' says it is hard to show whether joint financing has led directly to improvement.
Michael O'Higgins, Audit Commission chairman, said: ‘Councils and their healthcare partners must agree what they want to achieve through joint funding. Pooling funds can secure improved services for patients and those in need of social care, but often the acute financial arrangements can become the focus of attention.
'Joint funding should not be happening just for the sake of it. But there are success stories, and councils and the NHS can also achieve better value for money this way, which should be an added incentive with the financial squeeze ahead.'
David Stout, director of the NHS Confederation's Primary Care Network, said: ‘The concept of joint working has many merits, but it is not without its challenges and will not suit all organisations. Where joint health and social care can be implemented successfully, it can be highly beneficial in providing a more streamlined, joined-up service.'
Editor's blog: Why don't councils and health trusts work more closely?