England's chief nursing officer defends £10m learning disability funding delay
The chief nursing officer for England has defended the delay in transferring £10 million of learning disability funding from services provided in hospitals to those in community settings
Giving evidence to parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Jane Cummings admitted only £1 million had moved so far and that there had been a ‘lag’ in the process.
She appeared alongside NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens who explained that meeting its target of closing 136 beds across the country since 2015 had saved £10.7 million.
Professor Cummings said: ‘About £1 million that was provided by specialised commissioning is being released back into the system to support the other patients.
‘We are moving money, it is beginning to move, and that is a positive step.’
In 2015 NHS England used its Building the Right Support report to create 48 Transforming Care Partnerships (TCPs) to oversee the transfer process.
She added: ‘We were very clear when we published the report that this is not about saving money.
‘Any reduction in inpatient expenditure will be reinvested in services. This is a combination of NHS and local authorities working together to deliver services up front as far as we can.
‘At the moment, patients may be treated in hospitals that have overheads – wards and staff – and you can only take the money out once you have changed the contract you have got with that organisation.’
'Slight lag time'
Professor Cummings explained commissioning costs were less complex when made on an individual basis because the money can go direct to the patient; compared to NHS commissioning where first it must transfer to Clinical Commissioning Groups and then on to local authorities.
She added: ‘It will happen; there is just a slight lag time.’
Mr Stevens told the PAC panel that 21 new community teams, which include learning disability nurses, were created in the past year and ’11 will come online over the next three or four months.’
He added: ‘ We have about 7,000 learning disability nurses in England, of whom 3,200 are working in the NHS and 4,000 are in social care services or settings, and that balance may flex.'
He defended his organisation from claims it was closing beds before ensuring sufficient community support was in place and said the launch of the update to the Five Year Forward View contained a plan to recruit more learning disability nurses.
The PAC report will be released after Easter.