Practical approaches to integrating services will be piloted across England by ‘pioneer’ areas that will be appointed by September. Projects will be in place in every part of the country by 2015, the DH said.
The government will also set out an ‘agreed definition’ of what integrated care should look like, with help from patient charity National Voices, and put in place a measure of patients’ experience of joined-up care by the end of 2013.
In a statement, the DH acknowledged that under current services patients are often forced to ‘re-tell their story’ when they encounter a new part of the health and care services.
Inadequate sharing of information means treatment is delayed or patients are denied care altogether, the DH said.
The government also pointed to evidence suggesting that integration of care can save the NHS ‘billions of pounds’ if implemented effectively, and improve the care of people with long-term conditions.
Mr Lamb said: ‘People don't want health care or social care, they just want the best care. This is a vital step in creating a truly joined-up system that puts people first.
‘Unless we change the way we work, the NHS and care system is heading for a crisis.
‘This national commitment to working together is an important moment in ensuring we have a system which is fit for the future.’