NHS Confederation has launched a new report outlining how and why health and care services can be integrated more quickly.
The report, Stepping up to the place: the key to successful health and care integration, was published in conjunction with Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and NHS Clinical Commissioners.
For the first time, the organisations have drawn out their “whole-system vision” for integration based on forming care around the needs of individuals in a society with increasingly chronic and complex health needs.
Stephen Dorrell, chair of the NHS Confederation said: “This report sends a clear message that to improve the standard of care that we deliver to people we must better integrate our health and social care services.
“The NHS continues to face unprecedented demand and challenging financial circumstances.
“Against this background, we need to make sure we are utilising all the collective resources of a ‘place’ to benefit our local communities.
“There is now a real urgency to deliver on this ambition. Our priority now must be to turn rhetoric into action.”
The report says that integration will create a “collective leadership, which drives culture change, accepts responsibility for achieving the vision and ensures commissioning for and provision of better outcomes.”
However, the report also identifies challenges, including the lack of funding, which has put plans to improve patient care and the sustainability of the whole health and social care sector at risk.
The report outlines nine action points that can make integration happen.
These include creating long-term payment and commissioning models by “jointly identifying and sharing risk”, which means aligning commissioning across all budgets, sharing long-term planning, which charts a course to transform services and improve health, wellbeing and financial sustainability.
The report emphasises the need for a cultural shift towards preventative healthcare, as well as support from national leaders to address the shortfall in funding in public health and community services.
In a joint statement, Dr Amanda Doyle and Dr Graham Jackson, co-chairs of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said: “We are very pleased to have developed and shaped this vision with our partners across the system, who like our member [clinical commissioning groups] 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.”