In a discussion paper published by the NHS Confederation Community Health Services Forum (CHSF), community health leaders set out how providers in the sector could play a bigger role in new care models being developed in response to the NHS’s Five Year Forward View.
Forum chairman Matthew Winn said community services and primary care were ‘natural partners’.
‘We need truly joined-up, community-based models of care if we are to meet the demands of a 21st century health and care service,' he said.
The paper said: ‘As partnership working between the community health and primary care workforces grows, it will increasingly make sense to plan and develop both workforces alongside or together with each other.’
Some providers of community health services already directly employ GPs, the paper added, ‘this could be part of the solution where GP practices have persistent difficulty recruiting’.
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The document called for community health staff to take on more care planning for people with long-term conditions and new arrangements for patients to have access to a wider range of professionals and specialist services through GP practices.
Community health providers, it said, should partner with new GP federations to enable them to work better across much larger populations.
Primary care models
Mr Winn said: ‘Community services and primary care are natural partners. We could create a stronger and more sustainable community-based offer for patients if we build on the strengths that each possess. Bringing together the two parts of the NHS that see and support the entire population at different points of people’s lives would be incredibly powerful.
‘Everyone involved in developing new care models – commissioners and providers - will need to take a strategic approach to maximising the expertise, innovation and resources in community health services and release the possibilities of working in an integrated way with general practice.
‘To create new care models we must not start with organisational structures but instead use the views and insights of patients and the public, and engage community health care and general practice staff, to design a new future.’