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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Re-think needed on health and social care outcomes, says The King's Fund

31st March 2011

The King’s Fund has called for a single performance framework to ensure that NHS and social care services work together to improve outcomes for patients and service users in a new paper published today.

Integrating health and social care: Where next? says that the government’s NHS reforms offer an opportunity to integrate health and social care, but cautions that plans for separate outcomes frameworks for the NHS, social care and public health could threaten effective joint working at a local level, reducing benefits for patients and service users. The Fund is calling for the frameworks to be aligned, with a view to creating a single outcomes framework for all three services.

The report also highlights the potential for new health and wellbeing boards to improve joint working between health and social care. However, it warns that the boards, which are being set up under the government’s health reforms to bring together the NHS and local authorities, will not have sufficient teeth to drive the integration of local services. As a result, the Fund is calling on MPs to amend the Health and Social Care Bill to give the boards stronger powers to ensure that new GP consortia and local authorities work closely together.

In a separate report also published today, the Fund highlights experience from Torbay, where local NHS and social care staff are delivering integrated care by working together in single teams with a pooled budget. New analysis undertaken for Integrating health and social care in Torbay: Improving care for Mrs Smith shows this has reduced daily hospital bed use by a third since 1998/99: Torbay performs well in reducing delaying transfers of care from hospital and achieving lower rates of emergency admissions for older people than areas with a similar demographic.

Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund said: ‘We know that people want care that feels joined up and seamlessly addresses their needs. We also know that this is not the reality many people experience when they come into contact with health and social care services. Getting services to work together is a key challenge in improving outcomes, especially for people with long term conditions and older people with complex needs. The experience in Torbay shows what can be achieved by integrating local services – the policy changes we are suggesting would help make this the norm, rather than the exception.’

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