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Ensuring carers services are prioritised in the new system

DSC_0196We know that the moral and financial arguments for supporting carers are clear – without support, taking on a caring role can mean facing a life of poverty, isolation, ill health and depression.  For the person they care for it can mean costly hospital or care admissions if the caring relationship breaks down.

Our Network Partners have to work with a whole range of commissioners – local authority and NHS – to keep themselves viable. In recent years PCTs have had responsibility for commissioning services to support carers and with our Network Partners we have made the case nationally and locally as why support for carers should be prioritised.

However on 1 April this year, the new commissioning structure in England came into place, replacing PCTs with new Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Many of our Network Partners have told us that this change is proving difficult for them and that it differs radically from place to place. In some areas the situation has stayed fairly stable and familiar faces remain, whereas for others, CCGs are undertaking reviews of local services commissioned by the NHS and long established contacts have gone.

To support our Network Partners make the case to their local CCGs for commissioning well for carers, and in some cases start talking to new commissioners about carers services, Carers Trust has produced Commissioning for Carers: Key Principles for Clinical Commissioning Group.

The NHS reforms not only changed local commissioning systems but also brought in new accountability arrangements which means that there are no longer specific performance targets or rules for investing in carers services. This makes it more difficult to hold the NHS to account locally for what it commissions for carers.

The NHS Mandate sets out the Governments priorities for the NHS and key areas where it wants to see improvements by April 2015.

These are:

  • Preventing people from dying prematurely
  • Enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions
  • Helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury
  • Ensuring that people have a positive experience of care
  • Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.

Commissioning for Carers: Key Principles for Clinical Commissioning Groups demonstrates to CCGS how supporting carers can help meet these key areas for improvement and led for savings across the NHS.

We know that CCGs across England are under enormous pressure to meet financial targets and the key priority areas for improvement.

Commissioning well for carers is in all our interests, including CCGs, as it benefits the people being cared for, reduce overall spending in the NHS and can help commissioners meet required their outcomes. Let’s hope that CCGs are listening.

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July 22, 2013 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment