As Pulse readers may know, we are currently working across a number of regions supporting the integration of health and social care innovation through theory-based, realist and real-time evaluation approaches.
We are currently working closely with clients exploring the opportunities presented by NHSE’s Integrating Care: Next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England. As such, this month we were really interested in the King’s Fund written submission as part of the consultation exercise on this publication which can be seen here. The King’s Fund paper, although broadly supportive of placing Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) on a statutory footing, highlighted several areas that require addressing further including: (1) providing more detail to underpin legislative options; (2) the potential disruption to the health and care system that achieving change by 2022 may have particularly in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; and (3) recognition of the limitations of what legislation can achieve. Concerning the latter point the King’s Fund highlighted the importance of achieving cultural change and associated development of relationships and behaviours which support collaboration across the system. This is a common area of focus in the evaluations we undertake to support clients with integration.
From our own experience in evaluating the local care approach in Greater Manchester, we have seen the benefits of integration at a locality and neighbourhood level. There are many examples of the statutory health and care sectors and the voluntary community and social enterprise sector coming together in innovative ways to deliver services for the benefit of local communities. We hope that, with the planned merger of CCGs and the transfer of powers to ICS level, these advances will not be lost and that local areas will be empowered to address the needs of their population. We also think that without having a plan to put social care on a sustainable footing integration will continue to be undermined as cash-strapped local authorities struggle to meet growing demand and pressure on the NHS continues.
We look forward to continuing to work across systems to support integration which we believe continues to be a key driver for change in improving quality and effectiveness of how services operate and the experience of the end user.