302.Integrating care leads to clear benefits to patients’ experience of care, particularly those living with long-term conditions. Support for integration of care at local level is widespread across the health and care community. Local leaders spoke with energy and enthusiasm about the potential of more integrated, placed-based care not only to improve the delivery of health and care services, but to address wider social problems and contribute to the growth and prosperity of local areas.
303.For these reasons, we support the move towards integrated care, in which collaboration, rather than competition, is the organising principle of the health and social care system in England.
304.Historically, progress towards integrated care has been slow. Serious pressures facing the system have led national bodies to narrow their focus away from transformation and towards achieving financial balance. The Government and national bodies must act quickly to take the health and social care system out of survival mode and onto a more sustainable long-term footing. The current financial and workforce shortfalls present the greatest threat to successful transformation as organisations under extreme pressure have no space for reform.
305.Transformation is key to sustainability. To accelerate the progress towards integrated care, we recommend that the Government, together with the national bodies, develop over the next year a national transformation strategy, supported by:
a)a dedicated transformation fund; and
b)a clear narrative which describes the benefits of integrated care from the patient’s perspective.
306.Whilst we recognise the need to make evolutionary progress within the current legal framework, there are strong arguments for wider changes to primary legislation. The purpose of legislative change should be to address problems which have been identified at a local level which act as barriers to integration in the best interest of patients. We wish to stress that proposals should be led by the health and care community. We recommend that Parliamentarians across the political spectrum work together to support the legislative changes that will facilitate evolutionary change in the best interests of those who rely on services.
307.Patient care must remain the focus. Delivering better care for patients at the front line is what motivates and unites health and care professionals and the wider sector. Integration depends on services putting patients at the centre, joining up around them, sharing information and working with them to meet their needs, priorities and goals. The recommendations of this report are intended to assist the Department of Health and Social Care, national bodies, local NHS organisations and local government to achieve those aims. The most important test of all, however, is whether this translates into better care for patients.
Published: 11 June 2018