No stop for health and social care integration efforts

The head of NHS England has signalled that there is no intention of ending plans to more closely link the British health and social care systems.

A report from the National Audit Office earlier this year suggested that health and social care integration was not being carried out effectively enough to deliver the desired results, although where it was done well there were undoubtedly benefits.

Addressing the NHS Confederation in Liverpool, Simon Stevens reiterated that the course had not changed, and said that his priority was to end the “fractured” health and social care system, with nine areas covering 7 million people to be targeted as priority areas for integration.

The integration at a local level will be driven by ‘accountable care systems’ (ACSs), which will bring together local NHS organisations with voluntary groups and care organisations. The intention is to build on those local areas where successes have been made, which has had a particular impact on hospital admissions.

Although many will, without debt, criticise some integration efforts, but the evidence from the NAO’s report does suggest that there are benefits when it is done well. Experimenting across different localities may not always be pretty, but we can all acknowledge that our care system needs a shake-up, and we should welcome any moves that improve welfare whilst alleviating burdens on overstretched public services.

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