Integrated Care Systems in Devon – Busting the myths

21 March 2018

PARTNERS in health and social care across Devon have been working together since December 2016 with a shared purpose to improve the health and wellbeing of local people – this is an integrated care system in action. But there are no plans to form a new organisation in Devon from 1 April 2018.

Dr Nick Roberts, Chief Officer at Devon’s two Clinical Commissioning Groups, is keen to reassure people that this is a fully open process in line with national policy, following inaccurate claims of an NHS merger with social care “without consultation” in Devon from 1 April 2018.

“It is important to be clear that no new organisation is about to be set up, secretly or otherwise,” he said.

“We have been working with our partners openly and transparently to ensure that services work in an integrated and seamless way and this has been subject to scrutiny by our regulators and local authorities.

Integrated care system simply means working together

“We understand that the language around this is sometimes confusing – for example, integrated care systems were previously referred to as Accountable Care Organisations - but, simply put, an integrated care system simply means working together and that is quite clearly what we have been doing for some time.

It’s about services working better and more flexibly to meet the needs of people, not organisational boundaries.

“Details have been subject to public scrutiny since last year through local authority Overview and Scrutiny committees and Health and Wellbeing Boards, and we have openly shared information which is also widely available from other parts of the NHS and independent experts like the King’s Fund.”

Share best practice and avoid duplication

The two CCGs in Devon have been working increasingly closely together to share best practice and avoid duplication - saving almost £4 million in management and back office costs in the past year – for the benefit of patient care. 

“There is no question of secrecy or privatisation. It is national policy that working together to provide a more seamless health and care system, so that patients are not caught up between different organisations, is the best way to deliver modern, sustainable healthcare,” said Dr Roberts.

Help people stay healthy and tackle causes of illness

“A first wave of Integrated Care Systems was approved by NHS England last year and these are already up and running."

By working collaboratively, integrated care systems work to help people stay healthy, tackling causes of illness and wider factors that can affect health, such as education and housing.

Commissioners and providers of acute hospital and community services, primary care, mental health and social care will work increasingly in partnership to plan, finance and run services.

From the patient or service users’ point of view, they will see a more joined-up health and social care system that works for them. Their care – however simple or complex – is planned, with the council, CCGs, hospitals and GPs all working together to that same plan.

Devon at the forefront

This is not a new concept as Devon was at the forefront of the first ever integrated NHS health and care trust which was set up in Torbay in 2005 and was held up as a national model, paving the way for more recent successes such as the integrated health and social care system in Manchester.

The NHS Constitution and Local Authority Constitution remain at the heart of everything

“The NHS Constitution and Local Authority Constitution will remain at the heart of everything we do, meaning anyone can receive high-quality NHS care, free at the point of access, whenever they need it,” said Dr Roberts.
“Working in partnership across a wide range of services, people will be helped to stay healthy, receive more support and treatment at home rather than having to go into hospital if it’s not necessary, and see their GP more quickly.  If people do need to be admitted to hospital, they will be supported to get home quickly with the support they need.”

The CCG is keen to meet with those raising concerns or seeking clarification on the benefits of closer working.?

"It is disappointing if false rumours have caused unnecessary alarm to people," said Dr Roberts.

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