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Councils awarded more than £1m for digital innovation in social care


By Valeria Fiore
21 September 2018

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Eighteen councils have received £1.4m to spend on digital projects supporting social care.

The funding, announced by NHS Digital yesterday, will see the councils work collaboratively with the third sector, health partners, and the academic sector to develop systems that enable better data sharing and improve the living conditions of people in need of social care services.

Minister for care Caroline Dinenage said: ‘This funding will enable councils and their partners delivering social care to make information sharing fast, secure and accurate, and will make the journey as smooth as possible for some of the most vulnerable in our society as they move between care settings.’

The successful councils are:

Projects looking at improving the flow of health information into social care – funding totalling £820,000

  • Westminster City Council
  • Newham Council
  • Rutland County Council
  • Haringey Council
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • Lewisham Council
  • North Tyneside Council
  • Manchester City Council
  • Milton Keynes Council

Projects to improve the flow of social care information into health – funding totalling almost £200,000

  • Sutton Council
  • Hull City Council
  • Nottinghamshire County Council

Projects adopting predictive analytics to prompt prevention and intervention – funding totalling nearly £350,000

  • Islington Council
  • City of Wolverhampton Council
  • Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Worcestershire County Council
  • Nottinghamshire County Council
  • Luton Borough Council

Examples of projects include Westminster Council’s plan to adopt apps and Skype to communicate patients’ data when they are being transferred from hospital into social care and Wolverhampton Council’s intention to use predictive analytics – a mix of statistical analysis techniques and automated machine learning – to help identify the patients most likely to suffer from complex diseases.

NHS Digital head of the social care programme James Palmer said the use of predictive analytics has the ‘potential to support people at earlier stages which may help to reduce the need for long-term social care’.

According to the Local Government Association, local authorities have suffered an estimated £6bn worth of cuts to their adult social care budgets since 2009/10, which could lead to a funding gap of more than £2bn by 2020.

Palmer added: ‘Through the use of predictive models that forecast service need and target interventions, we have the chance to help people remain independent, in their own homes, for longer.’

LGA community and wellbeing board deputy chair Kate Allsop said: ‘[The funding] will support pioneering, safe and secure data-sharing initiatives so care and support can be planned more effectively around the personal needs of individuals and across populations.

‘These digital initiatives will complement the work of health and social care professionals and we will ensure that learning is shared across the sector to drive forward best practice.’

The funding announcement comes just months after NHS England named the first group of local health and care record exemplars (LHCRE) – including CCGs, STPs, local councils and clinical staff –  set to receive up to £7.5m each over two years to implement an electronic shared local health and care record.

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