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Health and social care 'fully integrated' by 2018

The government has committed to fully integrating health and social care by 2018. 

Described as an 'end to people passed around the health and social care system' the plans unveiled by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb. 

According to the government, people often get disjointed care and support, not designed to suit their needs. 

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

Government and key players in the health and care field have published plans that will see them working together to put people first.

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 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

Issues in the community include: 

  • People having to re-tell their story every time they encounter a new service
  • People not getting the support they need because different parts of the system don't talk to each other or share appropriate information and notes
  • Older people discharged from hospital to homes not adapted to their needs, only to deteriorate or fall and end up back in A&E - cutting emergency readmissions will bring a much better experience for patients
  • Home visits from health or care workers at different times, with no effort to fit in with people's requirements
  • Patients facing long waits in hospital before being discharged in part because of inadequate coordination between hospital and social care staff. (Delayed discharges cost the NHS £370million a year.) 

The 'best care'

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."

Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief executive said the changes are a “step in the right direction”. 

“It is right to identify a lack of integration between health and social care as a major factor in increasing pressure on acute and emergency care. This echoes what frontline staff have been telling us.

“We would like to see clarification around community workforce planning and local funding. For social care to properly relieve some of the strain on acute services, a larger community workforce is required, and community nursing staff must play an important role. 

“As care coordinators, nursing staff work at the interface of health and social care services, and play a key role in ensuring that patients do not notice where these start and end.

“In addition, local authority budgets are not currently ring fenced and we would want reassurance that health service money is only spent on providing health and social care. 

“We look forward to working with the Government and frontline staff to address these challenges to achieve greater integration and the best in patient care. If these plans reach fruition it really will help to give the public and patients the care and support they deserve.”

Local improvement


The announcement sees the publication of a system-wide “Shared Commitment”, which demonstrates how the national leaders of the health and care system have come together to help local areas make integration happen.

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