National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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Joined-up health and social care to be "the norm" by 2018

The government, together with partner organisations including NICE, has pledged an end to people being passed around the health and social care system thanks to uncoordinated services.

Joined-up health and community care is not currently the norm, with many people receiving disjointed care and support, not designed to suit their needs.

Often, people have to re-tell their story every time they encounter a new service, and do not get the support they need because different parts of the system don't talk to each other or share appropriate information and notes.

In a recent study, 32 per cent of bereaved people said hospitals did not work well with GPs and other services.

Now the biggest ever commitment to making coordinated health and care a reality has been launched. The government and partner organisations have published plans that will see them working together to put people first.

It includes ten commitments which every organisation has signed up to deliver, including: outlining how national resources will support local work; promises to ensure tools are available to help; details of how information will be used to enable integration; and plans to accelerate learning across the system.

The plans, which will be delivered by national leaders and local areas working closely together, include:

  • An ambition to make joined-up and coordinated health and care the norm by 2018 - with projects in every part of the country by 2015;
  • The first ever agreed definition of what people say good integrated care and support looks and feels like - this work by National Voices gives areas a clear vision to work towards;
  • New “pioneer” areas around the country appointed by September 2013 - they will be selected by a panel of experts, both national and international, who will be looking for the innovative, practical approaches needed to achieve change as quickly as possible; and
  • New measures of people's experience of joined up care and support by the end of this year so we can start to see whether people are feeling the benefits of the change.

A more integrated health and care system will bring benefits to many people - better joined up care and support means a real difference to older people, those with long-term conditions like diabetes and to carers supporting their loved ones.

But good coordination could also bring efficiency and financial benefits. A recent study suggests that improved integration could save billions of pounds to the health and social care system over a five year period, if implemented effectively. But more work is needed to establish the potential for savings with more certainty.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:"People don't want health care or social care, they just want the best care. This is a vital step in creating a truly joined up system that puts people first.

"Unless we change the way we work, the NHS and care system is heading for a crisis. This national commitment to working together is an important moment in ensuring we have a system which is fit for the future."

Sir Merrick Cockell, Chair of the Local Government Association, said: “As the providers of social care and now public health, councils have a key role to play in integrating services to both improve the quality of care and support that people receive and help find new ways of addressing the long-standing concerns around the future funding of care services.

“In order to achieve this we absolutely need to put real people of all ages, from children and young people to those with long term and multiple conditions, at the heart of everything we do. It is their voices and experiences that can help us create the person-centred services urgently needed to revolutionise care in this country.

“Health and Wellbeing Boards, as the core local decision makers across health and care, are crucial to this process and can provide a platform to ensure that public money is used effectively across the NHS and local government to tackle the wider health needs of our communities.”

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE said: “NICE has a key role to play in integrating care, and our quality standards provide a focus for driving up quality across the entire health and social care system. To be successful there needs to be a shared commitment to working together, which is why we are pleased to be supporting this national collaboration.”

NICE's first quality standards for social care were published in April 2013 to support people with dementia to live well, and improve the health and wellbeing of looked-after children and young people.

The dementia quality standard contains ten statements which are high-priority areas that will help people with dementia to live well.

Statements include ensuring that people with dementia, with the involvement of their carers, have choice and control in decisions affecting their care and support, and that they can participate in a review of their needs and preferences when their circumstances change.

NICE's second quality standard for social care contains eight statements that will improve the health and social, educational and emotional wellbeing of looked after children and young people in care.

Nine other social care topics are currently in the pipeline with the Department of Health consulting on a further 15 topics.

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