DoH to re-think incentives for NHS integration

Integration of NHS services is being held back because providers and commissioners perceive it as 'risky', a health minister has admitted.

Paul Burstow: NHS leaders see integration as risky
Paul Burstow: NHS leaders see integration as risky

Talking at a King’s Fund event on integration care minister Paul Burstow said while there are ‘some beacons of integrated care’ these have not managed to ‘fire the imagination’ of other parts of the UK.

Mr Burstow said part of the reason for this is because NHS leaders see integration as risky. He said this perception must be reversed.  

Mr Burstow said: ‘To say that we don’t need hero leaders is right, but what we don’t need is risk-averse leaders either.

‘At the moment the system default is that it’s risky to go down the route of integration, we need to turn that around so that it’s actually risky not to integrate services.'

Dr Robert Varnam, a GP leading the NHS Future Forum’s work on integration, agreed that ‘misaligned incentives’ in the NHS were acting as a barrier to integration.

He said: ‘What’s interesting is how much can and already has been done within the existing financial rules and systems. We are not in a situation where better integration is impossible now.

‘But clearly in the minds of those we have spoken to if the financial rules and frameworks were more freeing, flexible and more patient focused then a great deal more could be done at scale and pace.’

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