Health and care services to work more closely together

Local residents are beginning to benefit from different ways of working across health and care services.

And this is set to continue with plans being developed to improve lives, extend lives and save lives of people living in Brighton and Hove and across Sussex.

Over the past few years, health and care organisations have increasingly worked together to make sure the experience that local people have when using services are more joined up and better suit their individual needs.

GP practices have started working more closely with their neighbouring practices to share expertise and staff.

The way NHS services are planned and delivered is now more effective and consistent and NHS organisations, local authorities and partners are now working closer than they have ever done before to give people more joined up health and care.

There has also been much more focus on helping people stay healthier for longer and, if they do become ill, in supporting people to recover and manage their own health themselves.

This collaborative way of working is bringing real improvements for local people. Feedback from service users, their families and the hard-working staff clearly highlights that the way health and care services have previously been planned and provided has not been as effective or efficient as they could be.

The health and care needs of local people change all the time, as our populations continue to live longer and many people live for years with complex and long-term conditions that need ongoing care.

The technology, innovations and treatments that are available for us to use is also constantly changing.

So it is essential that health and care services keep up with this change to make sure residents get the right care they need, in the right place and at the right time.

To help achieve this, health and care organisations across Sussex are planning to build on the good work they have started to develop what is called an “Integrated Care System” (ICS).

This represents a partnership of health and care organisations, working together to take collective responsibility for the health of populations across large areas.

This new way of working will be based on the priorities and outcomes that matter to local communities and will allow all organisations to work together towards the same plan to improve health and wellbeing.

The aim is to help local people stay healthy, receive more support and treatment at home rather than having to go into hospital if it’s not necessary – and to see their GP more quickly.

If people do need to be admitted to hospital, they will be supported to get home quickly with the support they need.

Patients will have greater support to manage their own health when they do become ill and communities will see new initiatives introduced to support them in living healthier lives.

An Integrated Care System will not be a statutory or decision-making body and will not be a new organisation. It will be a way of working that will help health and care services to become better at meeting people’s needs.

The statutory accountability and decision-making responsibilities for health and care will remain with the current local statutory bodies – our NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups, and local authorities.

The new way of working has been successfully developed in other parts of the country and our aim is to be working as an ICS in Sussex from next year.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published last January, set the target of having Integrated Care Systems covering the whole country by 2021 so they will soon be a mainstream way in which health and care organisations work nationwide.

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Why are Integrated Care Systems being introduced?

The health and care needs local people are changing – and it is recognised that the current way of working is not as effective or efficient as it could be. People are sometimes having to go to a number of different appointments and see a number of different experts to get the care they need, some people are waiting longer than they should to get treatment and care, and some people find it hard to get access to the right care, at the right time, in the most appropriate place for them.

Additionally, in the past, health and care organisations have been incentivised to compete with one another and there have been differences in care across geographical boundaries. These have not always been positive for the way our health and care “system” works for people.

So it is recognised that more needs to be done to encourage greater collaborative working, across organisational and geographical boundaries. To help achieve this, health and care organisations across areas throughout country are developing ways of working that will allow and encourage collaborative working that gives their populations greater joined up care.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, has set the target for ICSs to be in place across the country by 2021 so they will soon be the mainstream way in which health and care organisations work.

What is going to change?

For people using health and care services, they should notice a greater focus on joined up care, ill health prevention and proactive care and support for people living with long-term conditions. This will include better access to services, better access to the right clinician and professional to suit their needs and more support either in their own homes or in more appropriate places for what they need. For our health and care organisations, they will be working more collaboratively, by sharing goals, resources and expertise. They will be taking more collective responsibility for the services they plan and provide.

How will an ICS help local people and patients?

The core purpose of developing an ICS is to bring real benefits to people’s lives. These include

  • Improved, equitable access to high quality, safe and joined-up care (eg, through patient access routes such as the NHS111 Clinical Assessment Service).
  • Greater access to health and care professionals with the most appropriate skills for people’s specific needs.
  • Health and care tailored in a more personalised way at home or as close to home as possible.
  • People will be better supported to improve their own health and wellbeing.
  • Better availability of non-clinical solutions that will keep people healthier for longer.
  • Easier interactions with health and care services through technology.
  • Greater joined up support for people with multiple health conditions.
  • Better support to people in care homes to ensure safe and high-quality care.

How will an ICS help health and care staff and professionals?

Developing an ICS will support professionals to be able to work efficiently and effectively. This includes

  • Collaborative working with health and care colleagues that creates opportunities for learning, uptake of innovation and for providing more seamless care.
  • Principles of inclusion, integrity and empowerment will be central to all activity.
  • Participation within a resourced workforce, which contains a diverse skill mix and is sustained through effective succession planning.
  • Standardised systems, processes and approaches across the local area that help with delivering more consistent care.
  • Opportunities to co-design pathways and delivery of local services at scale.
  • Safe and positive environments will allow all professionals the freedom to speak up and to be heard.

Is an Integrated Care System a new organisation?

No. It is important to be clear that no new organisation is about to be set up. The Integrated Care System in Sussex will not have statutory duties and will not be a decision-making body. The statutory responsibilities for health and care will remain with the current local statutory bodies. Locally for Brighton and Hove, these include the local authority (Brighton and Hove City Council), Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Is an Integrated Care System a form of privatisation of the NHS?

No. There are no plans or any intentions to increase privatisation of services in relation to a creation of an Integrated Care System. There is no evidence from across the country that the creation of an ICS increases privatisation and there is nothing set out in the NHS Long Term Plan that suggests that working in this way will increase privatisation in the NHS.

This is a sponsored editorial prepared by the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group.

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