Integrated Health

The concept of integration is not new. For a number of years now both national and local government have promoted closer working arrangements between public organisations with integration being the ultimate goal. There has been widespread agreement that integrated public services deliver better cost efficiencies, as well as a better service to users who sometimes had to undergo a number of individual organisational assessments or even got “lost” as their service pathway moved along different organisations.

Elderly people, those with mental health problems or the chronically ill are from the most vulnerable in our society and they usually receive both health and social care services. Being able to provide better, more efficient services to these people has been a priority for successive governments. In this context the Department of Health has been encouraging local health and social care agencies to work together to deliver more joined up services which are tailored to individuals needs, with information sharing being an important part of this drive. Sharing information helps local agencies to build up a complete picture of an individuals' needs for health and social care, and thus build a coordinated care package/plan.

The key elements required for successful integrated service delivery are:

  • The integrated service will work across existing or new organisational boundaries and place the user/patient/(carer) at the centre
  • Common definitions, protocols - reflecting professional governance requirements
  • A single pooled budget with single commissioning arrangements
  • Joint multi-agency planning

DH has identified some of the direct benefits of integration to patients/service users as being the following:

  • people being able to live independently for longer
  • reduced need for readmission to hospital and consequent disruption of their lives
  • improved care for people with long-term and complex conditions
  • better quality care based on a holistic assessment of need and properly coordinated care
  • reduced need for patients/service users to repeat the same information to different agencies with consequent reduction in frustration

Further information

1. NHS Health and Social Care Integration programme
The Health and Social Care Integration programme (HSCIP) within NHS Connecting for Health is supporting Department of Health initiatives to deliver better services by improving information sharing between the NHS, local government and other agencies in providing social care.

2. North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus
The North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus was the first of its type in the country and allowed a much greater degree of integration between health and social care. It has responsibility for the commissioning of health and adult social care services in North East Lincolnshire, whilst it also manages the community health and adult social care staff who provide these services to local patients and service users. The Care Trust Plus is responsible for a combined health and social care budget of £270 million for the 170,000 residents of the Immingham, Grimsby and Cleethorpes area.

3. Integrated Youth Support in Swindon
Integrated Locality Teams deliver a wide range of services for children and young people aged 0-19 including:

  • Connexions Personal Adviser
  • Educational Psychologists
  • School Nurses

4. NHS Blackburn with Darwen Teaching Care Trust Plus
NHS Blackburn with Darwen Teaching Care Trust Plus serves a population of around 165,000 people and is responsible for providing primary and community health services and commissioning a full range of hospital services for local people. As your local Teaching Care Trust Plus we aim to improve health in Blackburn with Darwen to help everyone live better, live longer.

9 November 2010

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