The key to successful health and care integration

Health visitor and older lady

A new report outlines for the first time a comprehensive vision of how and why health and care services should be integrated and provided locally.

Stepping up to the place: the key to successful health and care integration is published today (15 June) by the NHS Confederation, Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and NHS Clinical Commissioners.

It outlines a whole-system vision for integration based on forming care around the needs of individuals in a society with increasingly chronic and complex health needs.  The report also identifies challenges, including an unprecedented pressure on funding that has put plans to improve patient care and the sustainability of the whole health and social care sector at risk.

To integrate services faster, the report calls for:

  • national leaders to re-dress the shortfall in funding, particularly in public health and community services as demand outstrips resource 
  • a cultural shift away from focusing on services only when people are ill or have critical social care needs, to improving public health and meeting the needs of people
  • local leaders to look beyond individual organisations to work together to better integrate and make transformation happen quicker
  • agreement and action to address the barriers to making integration happen.

The principles needed to achieve integration include: 

  • a shared commitment to prevention, redirecting investment across health and care services to prioritise public health and community services
  • a focus on keeping people well rather than waiting to treat ill health 
  • alignment of workforce planning across local government and the NHS to better meet the needs of local communities
  • designing services around the individual and their outcomes, involving people in decisions based on what is important to them
  • locally appropriate and accountable governance arrangements – allowing leaders to be held accountable locally
  • shared systems including jointly identifying and sharing risk.

Turn rhetoric into action

Stephen Dorrell, chair of the NHS Confederation said:

 “This report sends a clear message that to improve the standard of care that we deliver to people we must better integrate our health and social care services. The NHS continues to face unprecedented demand and challenging financial circumstances. Against this background, we need to make sure we are utilising all the collective resources of a ‘place’ to benefit our local communities. There is now a real urgency to deliver on this ambition. Our priority now must be to turn rhetoric into action.”

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