The Department of Health has now published the 2016/2017 Better Care Fund Planning Requirements. The Timetable included in the guidance confirms that the first BCF submission should be made by 2 March 2016 and the second submission following assurance made on the 21 March 2016. All section 75 Agreements must be signed and in place by 30 June 2016.

The National Conditions

The National Guidance sets out 8 National Conditions for this year's BCF Agreement. The first six will be familiar to you from last year but the last two will need some further consideration.

  • Condition 7 - That a proportion of the area’s allocation is invested in NHS commissioned out-of-hospital services, or retained pending release as part of a local risk sharing agreement; and
  • Condition 8 - Agreement on a local action plan to reduce delayed transfers of care.

Narrative Plan

The Narrative Plan is a high level plan designed to show the changes that have been made to last year's plan to reflect the progress seen over the first year. The guidance sets out five areas that the Narrative Plan must demonstrate have been agreed by the Partners. It is clear that this does not require areas to restate information from the original BCF plan where the original plan satisfactorily covers the area.

Narrative plans are also expected to show the Partners arrangements in relation to data sharing and in particular digital or information technology including reference to local digital roadmaps. Since many S.75s last year did not provide much detail on data sharing this may well be an area that needs to be amended.

Risk Sharing or NHS Commissioned Out-of-Hospital Services?

Last year each area was required to have a set element linked to the performance framework. In this year's plan, where an area did not meet the emergency admission reduction then the Partners should agree an appropriate proportion of this budget to be ring fenced to give the CCG protection against excess emergency hospital activity. Any other sums should be spent on NHS commissioned out-of hospital services that can demonstrably lead to reducing other NHS costs.

Delayed Transfers of Care

Each area has to come up with an action plan to reduce delayed transfers of care. When doing so each area should assess the current performance and what schemes are already in place to target delayed transfers. This will enable Partners to identify how they are currently performing and to set a realistic target for reducing DTOC.

The Partners must decide whether to include a risk sharing arrangement for DTOC or whether to use the reimbursement provisions set out in the Care Act under which the NHS can seek reimbursement from the Local Authority.

Assurance and Governance

Each area should consider how their Partnership worked for the past year when assessing what, if any changes are required to the assurance and governance arrangements under the S.75 Agreement. Did all of the proposed Groups meet? Did the reporting work and was enough information provided to each Partner so as to be assured as to the performance of each element of the BCF.

To find out how Bevan Brittan can help you, please get in touch:

David Owens, Partner

Judith Barnes, Partner

Madeline Moore, Associate

Kirtpal Kaur Aujla, Associate

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