Health and social care integration must 'go up a gear', warn public sector leaders

Health and social care services need to be integrated urgently at an unprecedented pace and scale to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed by an ageing population, public sector leaders have said.

Integration must move beyond vanguard areas piloting new models of care, and better funding for public health and community services is vital to integrate health and social care in time to meet the needs of an ageing population with complex health needs, according to a report by leaders of NHS, local government and social services leaders.

Representatives from NHS Clinical Commissioners, the NHS Confederation, the Local Government Association, and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services jointly published a report calling for a genuinely integrated health and social care system to be in place by 2020.

Stepping up to the place: The key to successful integration, published on Wednesday, says integration must become ‘business as usual’ if the whole health and social care sector is not to be put at risk. NHS Confederation chairman, the former Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell, said there was now a ‘real urgency’ to turn the ‘rhetoric’ of integration into action.

NHS integration

A wide number of integration initiatives have been introduced across the NHS, from vanguard sites, to the prime minister’s Challenge Fund, to integrated care pioneers - many involving GP practices.

The report accepts that evidence on the success of health and social care integration is still being produced, but it says ‘all the signs’ are that integrated care can better meet the needs of an ageing population with complex and chronic health problems.

NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chairmen Dr Graham Jackson and Dr Amanda Doyle said: ‘Our member CCGs recognise that the integration of health and social care is key to delivering truly person-centred care and that we must focus on the concept of place-based commissioning.

‘Fulfilling the vision we’ve collectively set out here at a local level is also critical if we are to achieve our shared ambitions of transforming care and delivering better outcomes for our populations.’

The report said integration now needed to 'change gear', warning that the status quo was 'no longer an option'.

Photo: iStock

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