County Hall has defended its move to accept defeat in a row with the NHS, with £2.4m set to be written off in the dispute.

Leaders at Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council said it was better to accept the loss rather than pursuing the money in order to avoid a "bad relationship" with the health service.

It has said a new department will be set up to better manage finances between the Integrated Care Board and the council.

But critics have argued for more explanation as to why the public was kept in the dark over the row and have demanded assurances it won't happen again.

READ MORE: Scandal over council's 'missing' millions from NHS

Eastern Daily Press: Kay Mason Billig, leader of the Conservative-controlled Norfolk County CouncilKay Mason Billig, leader of the Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council (Image: Norfolk County Council)

Kay Mason Billig, leader of NCC said: "It is irresponsible to focus on the amount of money we had to write off.

"It hasn't been written off. That money is with the NHS for the care of people in Norfolk. We stepped up and made sure residents got the care they needed when they needed it.

"To suggest that we should be pursuing that money and having a bad relationship as a result while spending thousands on legal fees to no end - we are better off leaving it with the NHS to spend it wisely which I'm sure they will do."

Last month, it emerged invoices for care, stretching back to 2018, have been at the centre of a long-running dispute over whether Norfolk County Council or the NHS should have paid for people's care over the past five years.

READ MORE: Norfolk County Council plans major homecare shake-up

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk County HallNorfolk County Hall (Image: Mike Page)

The county council claims it is owed £2.4m by health bosses but is looking to cut its losses and draw a line under the issue.

Deputy leader Andrew Jamieson added that this "bad debt" was already accounted for and that it would not impact the current budget for adult social care.

The debacle is to be reviewed at a scrutiny committee meeting later this month, where it is hoped more details will emerge about the handling of the scandal.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour opposition group at County Hall, said: "It is extraordinary that no one was made aware about this sooner.

"We need a better explanation why this was not made public before and need absolute assurance that nothing like this happens again."

Eastern Daily Press: Labour opposition leader Steve MorphewLabour opposition leader Steve Morphew (Image: Archant)

Calls for more transparency over NCC's adult social care service delivery have also been raised following the decision to close the Benjamin Court, a reablement unit in Cromer.

Campaigners questioned this decision at the cabinet meeting on Monday, calling for County Hall to explain further why the facility was closed.

County Hall is to set up a dedicated task force to manage its financial relationship with the Integrated Care Board, which will include a joint working group between the two organisations.

Working with counterparts in the ICB, the department is to set up "robust processes and systems" to ensure the financial relationship has "regular oversight".

Allison Thomas, cabinet member for adult social care, said: "These new arrangements will be subject to internal audit, and regular monitoring to give transparency and assurance about fair apportionment of costs across health and social care."

READ MORE: Norfolk County Council needs to plug £42.6m budget gap

Eastern Daily Press: There is a growing demand for adult social care services in the countyThere is a growing demand for adult social care services in the county (Image: PA)

The group is to meet monthly to deal with outstanding financial issues "with clear escalation routes" if needed, according to Andrew Jamieson.

"We are not taking this matter lightly" he added.

The financial woes developed amid the Covid pandemic and a string of shake-ups within the NHS, creating a muddled picture over debts that had built up on both sides.

NCC has said it will work together with the ICB to ensure similar financial discrepancies will be avoided ahead of any future restructuring in the NHS.

A spokesperson for NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: "We will continue to work with Norfolk County Council and other organisations across our health and care system to ensure residents receive the care and support they need, at the right time and right place."