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There’s a strong consensus that better integration is an essential part of the way ahead for local services – for health and social care, of course, but also more broadly. But wishing doesn't make it so, and actually achieving integration and using it to deliver the hoped-for goals of better user experiences and more efficient services is fraught with difficulties.
The CIPFA 2015 conference – making the most of its pan-public sector expertise - was themed around Aligning Local Public Services. Some examples of where we are bringing sectors together and supporting the delivery of public services in an integrated context are:
CIPFA will be holding a series of ten roundtable discussions around the UK which pull together the views of leading practitioners. Those flow into the briefings and publications which CIPFA produces. In the recently issued briefing Moving Forward with Integration [pdf] CIPFA suggests that three conditions will need to be met:
First, the Government must recognise that combining two financially challenged systems will not in itself increase resources available. All the indications are that additional funding or changes to the regime for charging will also be needed.
Second, it is critical that the Government moves quickly to address the financial and policy framework for integration in 2016-17 and beyond.
Third, central and local health and social care leaders must take the right local actions to facilitate successful integration, concentrating on frontline practice.
If progress is to be achieved on a broader front, then it is vital to understand the overall spending picture in order to inform assessment and implementation of the best options. This Public Finance article sets out how three CIPFA products will help:
First, the overview report, Aligning Local Public Services [pdf], dissects the policy environment and shows how practitioners can shape the agenda.
Second, the Aligning Local Public Service Framework [pdf] – both a reference guide to good practice and a diagnostic tool based on the CIPFA Financial Management Model – enables organisations to evaluate how well they are doing in pursuit of collaborative working.
Third, given that effective decision-making has to be underpinned by relevant and sound financial data, CIPFA is developing an easy-to-use tool [xlsx] that will enable public bodies to use imported shared data to produce reports in a variety of formats. The tool will reveal the scope for aligning policy and service objectives; streamlining policy and service objectives that are common to different partners; and aligning the delivery approach where partners have differing approaches to the same customer groups.
CIPFA runs networks to bring practitioners together, helping them to stay up-to-date with the latest legislative developments and technical issues, compare experiences and approaches, and carry out benchmarking.
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Moreover, CIPFA’s world-leading public finance qualification continues to evolve to suit the changing public services environment, increasing the focus on the wide range of commercial skills needed by UK public finance practitioners, delivering greater portability between the public and private sectors and providing more entry routes for holders of other qualifications and experienced professionals – all helpful in moving integration forward.
Continuing Professional Development is an important part of that offer, and there will be three autumn conferences covering the latest finance issues in health and social care:
Glasgow: CIPFA Scotland, in conjunction with the HFMA, are holding a one day conference on 16 Sept, aimed at senior finance practitioners. Christine McLaughlin (Deputy Director for Health Finance, Scottish Government) will be among those exploring the challenges and opportunities that health and social care integration offer the finance community. Book via firstname.lastname@example.org
London: an Integration Summit (run jointly with HFMA) on 30 September, at which key figures including Chris Ham (Chief Executive, Kings Fund) will set out the latest whole system thinking for strategic managers.
Manchester: details will be available shortly on CIPFA's Health and Social Care Conference. Leading practitioners including Carol Culley (Head of Financial Management, Manchester City Council) will set out the latest issues of which finance staff should be aware - save the date 21 October.