It is expected that people will get better care and support and fewer will “fall through the cracks” of care.
Norman Lamb has said that full integration will see an end to uncoordinated services leading to patients being passed around the health and social care systems.
The Department of Health (DoH) has said there will be a drop in the number of patients needlessly stuck in hospitals when health and social care are integrated in 2018.
NHS England will have a budget of about £1bn to ensure there are integrated projects in every part of the country by 2015. These projects will trial the integration before it’s introduction in 2018.
The government has asked a regulator and NHS England to develop a system that will stop people being passed around between doctors in hospitals and community services.
The new proposals say hospitals would also be paid based on how patients rate their experiences.
There are currently two separate systems, which the DoH says leaves people often getting disjointed care and support that isn’t designed to suit their needs.
Current problems 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 information and notes.
Older people are often discharged from hospital to homes that have not been adapted to their needs, which can cause them to deteriorate or fall and end up being rushed back in to hospital.
Patients face long waits in hospital with the present system before being discharged which the DoH says is in part because of inadequate coordination between hospital and social care staff, and delayed discharges cost the NHS £370m a year.
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 that there is much more emphasis on the responsibility of councils to integrating services and help find new ways of addressing the long-standing concerns around the future funding of care services.
Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund, said:
Feedback from our work with local health and social care leaders indicates that some aspects of current policy and regulation are acting as barriers to delivering co-ordinated care.
This should be addressed by giving pioneer areas freedom and flexibility to overcome these restrictions when they are rolled out from September.