Doctor with patient

Integrated NHS and social care aims unveiled in whitepaper

Patients will receive better, more joined up care under new plans announced by the government to improve the links between health and social care.

The Integration White Paper sets out a vision for an integrated NHS and adult social care sector which the government said will better serve patients and staff.

The government said that despite the best efforts of staff, the current system means that too often patients find themselves having to navigate complex and disjointed systems.

They added that those with multiple conditions can be left feeling frustrated at having to repeatedly explain their needs to multiple people in different organisations, while others can end up facing delayed discharge.

According to the government, this is because the NHS and local authorities are working to different priorities in a way that is not as joined up as it could be.

The whitepaper sets out some of the ways health and care systems will draw on the resources and skills across the NHS and local government to better meet the needs of communities, reduce waiting lists and help level up healthcare across the country.

This includes:

  • Better transparency and choice.
  • More personalised care.
  • Earlier intervention.
  • Clear communication.
  • Improved access to social care services through NHS data sharing.
  • Better treatment.
  • Better NHS support to care homes.
  • Coordinated services.
  • More flexible services.
  • Better value for money.

Commenting, Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

“Better integration is vital to stop people falling into the gaps between health and social care.

“Ensuring our health and care systems work in unison will mean we can support hardworking staff, provide better care to patients and deliver value for the taxpayer.

“Our Integration White Paper is part of our wider plans to reform and recover the health and social care system, ensuring everyone gets the treatment and care they need, when and where they need it.”

The government said the plans set out in the whitepaper will ensure care is more personalised and accessible, therefore removing the burdens on patients.

Local health services will be tailored to the specific needs of the community to ensure the right services are available.

This could mean more diabetes clinics in areas with higher obesity, or additional support for people to stop smoking in communities where there are higher numbers of smokers.

The Integration White Paper is the next step in delivering the government’s promise of a health and social care system fit for the future.

Integrating services in other parts of the country will help staff to treat increasingly complex conditions and combat health disparities, including by harnessing new and innovative technology, the government said.

To help embed integration across the country, there will be a single point of accountability at a local level to ensure closer links are forged between health and care systems, with consistent and compatible targets.

Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove added:

“The past two years have highlighted the persistent health disparities in this country.

“As we recover and level up, it is right that we draw on our experience of the pandemic to bridge the gaps that are holding us back, between health and social care, between health outcomes in different places and within society.

“This is what our important Integration White Paper aims to achieve, by bringing together the NHS and local government to jointly deliver for local communities, and why I am so happy to champion its ambition.”

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