National charities release joint vision on integrating care

National charities have collaborated to create and publish a joint vision on integrating care.

Developed by The King’s Fund, Age UK, National Voices, and The Richmond Group of Charities, the publication has the support and input of a number of other prominent organisations including NHS Providers, NHS Confederation, the Royal College of Physicians, MS Society, Diabetes UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, British Heart Foundation, Alzheimer’s Society and British Red Cross, among others.

Entitled ‘Reform for people, a joint vision for integrating care’, the document focuses on three key areas: people and communities; patients, service users and carers; people working in health and care.

In response to the UK Government’s Health and Care Bill, which includes reforms to the NHS and local spending decisions, as well as the implementation of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to enable more joined-up and localised care, the document aims to provide a “clear narrative” on the “overarching purpose of the reforms”.

“This vision statement”, it says, “has been created to help articulate what a successful outcome for the reforms would need to include, based on a shared understanding of what good health and care looks like” and to “act as an important reference point” to check progress and “ensure that we don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal of improving people’s health and care”.

In the area of people and communities, the report states that ICSs and “other collaborative bodies” should “prioritise prevention, early intervention, and tackling the causes of health inequalities” and place as much emphasis on this as when providing services for existing needs.

Its three recommendations in this area are for ICSs to:

  • Work with ‘constituent organisations’, including the VCSE [Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise] sector, primary care networks, local government, and other partners, to understand how they can help reduce health inequalities.
  • Value and use the local assets and expertise that are already in place.
  • Share local data across systems to ensure a data-led approach when designing and delivering services.

For patients, carers and service users, the vision focuses on joined-up, flexible and personalised care. To make the most of the opportunity the reforms could provide, it says, “partner organisations must actively listen to and take onboard the views of people, carers and their communities regardless of their background or culture.”

Its hopes for this area of care include that ICSs should:

  • Ensure that patients and carers can shape and challenge plans and services that they use, with ICSs demonstrating how they have taken on the lived experiences of people.
  • Make sure there is a ‘diverse range of providers’ in their area to meet individual needs and ensure choice.
  • Make mental health services easily accessible and as high-quality as services for physical needs.
  • Involve the VCSE sector and make use of its insight into communities that need more of a voice.

Finally, for healthcare professionals, the publication highlights the “workforce crisis in health and care” as “the single biggest risk to achieving the goals of the reforms”.

To deliver “improved population health and better care”, it states, “there needs to be concerted action” to ensure “workforce planning and development meets future needs”, as well as underlining the need for more staff support to help the workforce harness its potential.

“To be successful,” it adds, “ICSs must become a means through which local organisations can come together to tackle these challenges” while, there must be “enough people with the right skills” and staff must be “respected, valued, and reflective of local needs and diversity.”

In this section, the vision advises that ICSs:

  • Work with national bodies to develop clear and transparent processes for workforce planning, develop relationships in academia for staff training and have up-to-date data on workforce projections.
  • Work with healthcare staff to develop collaborative, inclusive, compassionate cultures where frontline staff are empowered to act on feedback.
  • Ensure organisations are reflective of the diversity of their communities.
  • Understand relationships between the NHS, social care, public health, and VCSE.

To read the vision in its entirety, please click here.