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Regulator praises ‘shining examples’ of care integration in Plymouth

CQC inspectors have heaped praise on Plymouth’s health and social care system for its “clearly articulated, long-established vision of integration.”

Specifically looking at the link between local government social care responsibilities and NHS facilities, an investigation found that leaders had committed to a joined-up approach to care and worked cooperatively to implement it.

The review was part of 20 targeted local reports currently being completed by the regulator at the request of health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt and communities secretary Sajid Javid.

Inspectors noted “innovative” risk-sharing agreements in the are between the local council and the CCG, as well as a “significant” shared budget – a recurring theme in many of these positive reports.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspectors of primary care services, said the review had highlighted some “shining examples of shared approaches” and urged bosses to keep working towards integration.

“The system leaders had a clearly articulated, long-established vision of integration which translated well into local commissioning strategies,” Field explained. “Leaders were consistent in their commitment to the vision with whole system buy-in.

“I would encourage system leaders in Plymouth to drive this forward to ensure there is a more community, home-based focus. System leaders also need to ensure that as the system moves towards further integration, work is undertaken to ensure that staff are fully engaged, from the outset and led by a collaborative leadership.”

However, there were some criticisms of processes in Plymouth, with patients reporting a varied experience of services despite the implementation of a more joined-up approach.

In addition, more people in the are were attending A&E on average and a large number of these were staying longer than necessary. This was a particular problem in Derriford Hospital were service pressures continue to cause issues.

The CQC recommended that system leaders shift some focus to key primary care challenges, with a specific focus on managing care capacity and patient flow.

While there were some criticisms, frontline staff received particular praise from the regulator, principally for showing a commitment to change which was echoed throughout the organisation.

The CQC’s targeted reviews are aimed at understanding the way patients move through systems of integrated care in order to more effectively implement efficient methods.

In its latest edition, NHE's sister title PSE took a look at some of the examples of successful integration and analysed the factors that make systems work effectively from large rural areas to central city boroughs.

Top image: Matt Stansfield

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