NHS leaders have taken great strides in integrating care but there is more to do

Matthew Taylor responds to the Government's announcement on the new Integration White Paper.

9 February 2022

Responding to the Government's announcement of the new Integration White Paper, Matthew Taylor chief executive of the NHS Confederation said:

“NHS and local government leaders have taken great strides in integrating care for patients and local communities but they know there is more to do. This white paper, alongside the Health and Care Bill that is going through parliament, will help take these efforts to the next level. We look forward to reviewing the plan in detail.

“The pandemic has shown just how interlinked health and care services are and need to be, and it’s vital that we continue to speed up integrated ways of working. The proposals in the white paper to break down barriers between NHS providers and local authorities, including through better data sharing, will be a big step forward. However, it bears repeating that integration across health and care is not new, it’s already happening on the ground and has been for many years.

“There have been rumours that the government was going to force mergers or pooled budgets as a way of appointing a single accountable person who would be responsible for planning health and care services in each local area. We are glad that the government has resisted this approach as it would have led to needless disruption at a time when the NHS needs to focus on recovering services as quickly as possible.

“As these proposals are developed further, it is important that we recognise the differences that exist in local areas including in local relationships. They will need to evolve in their own way if we are to crack this agenda.

 “Finally, for integration to work there needs to be joined up thinking across government as well as at local level. Ensuring this will allow local leaders the freedom to work with their communities to identify what will provide the best outcomes for the public.”