Introduction: Over the past two decades, the service delivery landscape across health and social care in England has been reshaped in order to separate the commissioning of services from their delivery.
Policy/practice: The market ethic that underpinned this move has depicted the previously conflated roles as unresponsive to the needs of service users and dominated by provider interests. As well as seeming to offer commissioners the chance to change the nature of provision and type of provider, this policy model also created a further new opportunity - for joint commissioning across organisational boundaries. The logic here is that if two or more commissioners can jointly shape their programmes then they will be better able to secure integrated provision across a range of separate agencies and professions.
Conclusion: This article reviews the experience of joint commissioning across health and social care over the past decade in England. It contrasts the proliferation of policies against the paucity of achievements, seeks explanations for this situation, and offers pointers for future development.