Patients will receive better care as the NHS and social care systems combine

  • The government’s new integration white paper will bring the NHS and local government together to improve care for all and value for money
  • The plans will ensure that people receive the right care for them, in the right place and at the right time
  • Combining services will help build a leading health and social care system working together as part of a broader reform and recovery agenda

Patients will receive better and more integrated care under new plans announced today to improve the links between health care and social services.

The Integration White Paper sets out a vision for an integrated NHS and adult care sector that will better serve patients and staff.

Despite the best efforts of staff, the current system means that too often patients have to navigate complex and disjointed systems. Those with multiple conditions may feel frustrated having to repeatedly explain their needs to multiple people in different organisations, while others may find themselves facing delayed discharge because the NHS and local authorities are working on different priorities. in a way that isn’t as joined as it could be.

The white paper sets out some of the ways health and care systems will draw on the resources and skills of the NHS and local government to better meet the needs of communities, reduce waiting lists and help improve care health across the country.

This includes –

  • Better transparency and choice: If local authorities and the NHS share data and are more transparent about their performance, local people will be able to see how health and care services in their area work and make decisions about their own care.
  • More personalized care: Pairing GPs with broader forms of community support – such as social prescribing – could allow care to be more personalized, helping to reduce the need for people to have medical treatments more expensive and invasive.
  • Earlier intervention: Integration will help people access the right services at the right time – including specialist services – which could mean earlier intervention that could prevent disease progression and reduce the need for invasive and costly interventions at the end of the day.
  • Clear communication: The integration will mean that patients will have a single digital care record so they can book appointments, order prescriptions and communicate with their healthcare providers on one platform, while those involved in the delivery of health and care services will be able to access the latest patient information. Not only will this save time, but it will help ensure that a patient does not have to repeat themselves so many times, and professionals will have the information they need to develop patient-specific care plans.
  • Improving access to social care services through sharing NHS data: Currently, local authorities cannot access all NHS data to make decisions about access to social care services. An integrated system would allow the NHS to immediately notify a local authority if a person is in need of social care.
  • Better treatment: managing illnesses in the community through better coordination between primary, community and hospital services means better treatment for patients.
  • Better NHS support for care homes: Integration between hospitals and social care would mean more specialist support so care home residents can be treated before they get sick and avoid having to go to the hospital.
  • Coordinated services: Better integration between health and care will reduce the burden on people of having to coordinate between different hospital specialists, GPs, social services and local authority services themselves.
  • More flexible services: Aligning financial incentives and pooling budgets will allow the NHS and local authorities to use their resources more flexibly for the benefit of patients.
  • Better value for money: Reduced duplication and waste means that NHS investments can be spent in a way that benefits patients and saves money for social care, ensuring value for the taxpayer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

The pandemic has highlighted what our fantastic NHS and local government can achieve when they work together – from delivering the phenomenal vaccine rollout to supporting those protecting.

We now want to build on these successes, linking health and social care even more to provide the best possible care, whether you want to see a GP quickly or live independently with dementia.

These plans will ensure that no patient falls between the two and that everyone receives the right care in the right place at the right time.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Better integration is essential to prevent people from falling into the gaps between health and social care.

By ensuring that our health and care systems work in unison, we will be able to support hard-working staff, provide better patient care and deliver value to the taxpayer.

Our Integration White Paper is part of our wider plans to reform and restore the health and social care system, ensuring everyone gets the treatment and care they need, when and where they need it.

The plans set out in the white paper will ensure more personalized and accessible care and remove the burden on patients. Better information sharing will mean people no longer have to remember key facts such as dates of diagnosis or medications prescribed, relieving patients of having to coordinate their own care.

Local health services will be tailored to the specific needs of the community to ensure the right services are available. This could mean, for example, more diabetes clinics in areas with higher obesity, or additional support for people to quit smoking in communities with higher numbers of smokers.

The Integration White Paper is the next step in delivering on the government’s promise of a health and social care system fit for the future. It builds on both the Health and Social Care Bill and the People at the Heart of Care White Paper, which sets out a 10-year vision for social care funded through the health tax and care, and is following the delivery plan to tackle the COVID-19 backlog. elective care. Dedicated plans to address health disparities should be released in due course.

Integrated approaches are already being developed in many areas.

Through their contact with people in the community, pharmacies in Sutton recognized a growing problem of loneliness and isolation, so they worked with colleagues in the health and care system in this region to identify those who had it. most needed and connecting them to the services that were the best. placed to support them.

In Portsmouth, local authorities, health trusts and voluntary organizations have combined their knowledge and expertise to improve support for vulnerable people in the community through a range of different services including medical visits, school nursing and support for learning disabilities.

And at Tameside and Glossop, an electronic personnel records system has enabled data to be fed into COVID-19 situation reports, so staffing levels can be managed more effectively based on live data.

Integrating services in other parts of the country will help staff address increasingly complex conditions and address health disparities, including by harnessing new and innovative technologies.

To help embed integration across the country, there will be a single point of responsibility at the local level to ensure that closer links are forged between health and care systems, with coherent and compatible goals.

Michael Gove, secretary of Leveling Up, said:

The past two years have highlighted the persistent health disparities in this country. As we recover and move forward, it is right that we draw on our experience of the pandemic to close the gaps that hold us back – between health and social care, between health outcomes in different places and within the company.

This is what our important white paper on integration aims to achieve, bringing together the NHS and local government to jointly deliver to local communities, and why I am so happy to champion its ambition.

Mark Cubbon, director of deliveries at NHS England, said:

The NHS is committed to making it easier for patients to get the care they need, whatever service or services they use, and that’s why we have already established 42 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) across England as part of the long-term programme. Plan to ensure that all parts of the NHS and its partners are working effectively together.

The pandemic has shown us what we can achieve when we work together, and bringing together health services, social services and the wider community is key to improving efficiency and providing our patients with the best care possible.

Paul Najsarek, Solace spokesperson for health and social services, said:

This white paper is a welcome step forward in improving health outcomes in communities across the country.

The potential for local governments to make a real and positive difference to the people and places we serve is immense, but it will only be by working with partners in the health, voluntary and community sectors, and by leveraging our respective strengths, that we will be able to effect meaningful change by improving disease treatment and prevention, improving public health and addressing inequalities.

In particular, local authority chief executives have a crucial and unique role to play in both bringing together disparate funding sources and galvanizing not only their councils but also key local stakeholders to contribute to this incredibly important agenda.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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