Social Care - Help with long-term conditions care

Commissioning lead Dr Robert Varnum on a new resource on long-term conditions to help CCGs with social care.

Dr Varnum: integrated working (Photograph: DoH)

A new resource should prove helpful both for the leaders of the new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and their member GP practices. They are going to need to play a much greater part in understanding shaping pathways and services. It is called an at a glance briefing and covers social care and clinical commissioning for people with long-term conditions. It is written by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), along with the King's Fund.

The briefing highlights the progress already being made towards greater joined-up planning and working between health and social care. There are around 15 million people in England with at least one long-term condition. People with long-term conditions make up half of all GP appointments and 70 per cent of healthcare expenditure.

This briefing highlights the crucial role of integrated working between the NHS and social care services, to achieve better outcomes.

GPs already have a holistic perspective about our patients' needs, and are well acquainted with the interplay between physical and social issues in both the causation and management of people's problems. However, regardless of our biopsychosocial perspective, we often find ourselves powerless to ensure that patients experience a cohesive approach to meeting their needs.

Effective relationships
The practical ideas in this briefing will provide a welcome indication of how we can improve these in our practice and across our CCG. Its advice, to ensure that we do not lose what we already have, is very timely.

As CCGs begin taking stock, we are building key relationships and agreeing their priorities. We recognise the central importance of these effective relationships between professionals.

Designing healthcare
So we want a more seamless experience for our patients. Taking a greater role in the design of the local health and social care system presents an opportunity to achieve this. There are several benefits; it is likely to improve safety and quality, to reduce waste and to improve satisfaction for both patients and ourselves.

The at a glance briefing is handy because it looks at how GPs and social care staff can work together to develop new relationships, plan and co-ordinate care, and fund and commission the best and most efficient services. I think it is a great resource.

Working collaboratively with local services, clinical commissioners can redesign services to ensure patients and their families get the care to improve their health outcomes. We can also be more efficient and effective and could save money.

  • Dr Varnum is clinical lead for commissioning, NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, and a GP in Manchester


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