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Challenges in integrating health and social care: the Better Care Fund in England

Harlock, Jenny, Caiels, James, Marczak, Joanna ORCID: 0000-0002-6955-1180, Peters, Michele, Fitzpatrick, Raymond, Wistow, Gerald, Forder, Julien and Jones, Karen (2020) Challenges in integrating health and social care: the Better Care Fund in England. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, 25 (2). 86 - 93. ISSN 1355-8196

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1355819619869745


Objectives The Better Care Fund is the first and only national policy in England that has legally mandated the use of pooled budgets to support local health and social care systems to provide better integrated care. Methods We report qualitative findings from the first national multi-method evaluation of the Better Care Fund, focusing on its implementation, perceptions of progress and expected impacts among key stakeholders. Interviews were carried out with 40 staff responsible for Better Care Fund implementation in 16 local health and social care sites between 2017 and 2018. Results Study participants reported their experiences of implementation, and we present these in relation to three themes: organizational issues, relational issues and wider contextual issues. Participants stressed the practical and political challenges of managing pooled budgets and the complexity of working across geographical boundaries. In a context of unprecedented austerity, shared vision and strong leadership were even more vital to achieve collaborative outcomes. Conclusion Pooling budgets through the Better Care Fund can lever closer collaboration between sectors and services. Shared vision and leadership are essential to develop and foster this closer collaboration. Although some successes were reported, the study highlights that there are major cultural, operational and territorial barriers to overcome.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors
Divisions: Methodology
Personal Social Services Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2019 09:45
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:28

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