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Integrating health and social care

The NHS has failed to factor independent adult social care sector providers into its plan for a new integrated care system, say Care England.

In November NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) published Integrating care: Next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems which sets out the policy proposals for the future of integrated care systems (ICSs) in England.

The proposal outlined NHSEI’s ambition to create a system that will allow patients to have their day-to-day care and support needs ‘expressed and met locally in the place where they live’.

However, Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England said the proposal fails to recognise the important relationship between health and social care.

‘Adult social care is essential to the fabric of society, this has been seen in technicolour over the incredibly difficult past months so it is disappointing that NHSEI has failed to recognise the strategic relationship between health and social care providers in its future planning for integrated care.

‘As such an important part of the jigsaw, adult social care should not be fighting its case, rather NHS England should be focusing on a vision for the future incorporating a workforce plan and fairer funding to providers including Continuing Healthcare.’

Under the system, patients will have access to clear advice on staying well, along with a range of preventative services and simple, joined-up care and treatment when they need it.

They will also have access to digital services (with non-digital alternatives) and proactive support to keep as well as possible.

This ambition will be met through providers of primary care, community health and mental health services, social care and support, community diagnostics and urgent and emergency care working together with meaningful delegated budgets to join up services.

It will also allow important links to be made to other public or voluntary services that have a big impact on residents’ day-today health, such as by improving local skills and employment or by ensuring high-quality housing.

Delivery will be through NHS providers, local government, primary care and the voluntary sector working together in each place in ICSs, built around primary care networks (PCNs) in neighbourhoods.

The NHS, through its employment, training, procurement and volunteering activities, and as a major estate owner, will also be expected to play a full part in social and economic development and environmental sustainability.

NHS England is asking every system to be ready to operate as an ICS from April 2021, and has published Next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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