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Academic Partnership workshop 'Fair Cost of Care'

The cost of care is one of the urgent challenges facing commissioners and providers, with local authorities undertaking a cost of care exercise as part of the Government’s reform agenda. IPC hosted a timely workshop for partners working across the system to explore the agenda. We reflected on what’s involved in understanding the cost of care and reached a shared view of fair and sustainable prices.

The workshop was led by Dr Mick Mellors, Visiting IPC Research Fellow and he was joined by Simon Harniess, Director of Development at Essex Care Association.

Dr Mick Mellors observed,

The issue of a fair price for care is high on the agenda, with recent Government proposals including measures to develop a sustainable market. There is expectation that local authorities will carry out a cost of care exercise, engage with providers to understand costs, and enhance market oversight capacity. With budgetary pressures on both commissioners and providers, negotiating prices remains a key process within the system”.

Simon Harniess said:

"It was great to be invited to share a provider perspective in the session and to hear back from commissioners about their pressures."

Simon’s insights and views were appreciated by workshop participants, who remarked,

Simon, you could not have said it better. I am a provider and you have managed to articulate my thoughts clearly….”; and (this was) “an accurate overview from a provider perspective."

Key insights from participants:

  • Building and sustaining strong commissioner-provider relationships is critical to agreeing a fair price for care
  • Relationships take time and investment, and commissioning functions are currently stretched
  • The timing of the cost of care exercise is challenging as we are experiencing inflation, Covid costs, pay rates, fuel costs, and workforce fatigue
  • The fair cost of care exercise might be an opportunity to think about forthcoming recommissioning activities, and to engage with new and different providers. However, it’s a complex task, and how to support providers to participate needs careful consideration
  • It’s imperative that we take a consistent approach across local authority and regional boundaries
  • It’s important to engage with providers to understand the market, supported by multi agency and provider forums
  • Fundamentally, it’s vital not to lose sight of what it is we’re looking to commission and be solely preoccupied with cost.

If you would like to know more about our work in this area, then please contact Philip Provenzano, Assistant Director IPC.

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