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Streamlining services for better care

Tagged In:  Allied Health

Eradicating duplication of effort is at the heart of the drive to integrate health and social care. 

In 2012 Liverpool City Council set up a health commission to review the city's health economy. "Currently, the patient experience of health and social care is characterised by duplication, bureaucracy and a lack of integration between providers," wrote Deputy Mayor Roz Gladden in an article for Health Service Journal. 

Five years on, the idea of remodelling services to avoid duplication of effort has become a key goal for health and social care providers across the UK. A recent report by the Health Foundation and the Advancing Quality Alliance has once again highlighted the issue, advocating a 'whole system flow' approach that focuses on improving the pathway that patients take through different parts of the NHS and social care system.

Creating new pathways

Whether you're a doctor, nurse, occupational therapist or social worker, seeing duplication of effort in the health and social care system can be extremely frustrating. In Liverpool, they found that it was not unusual for patients to be subjected to five separate health assessments from different health and social care services. 

The National Audit Office has recently warned that service integration progress at a national level has been 'slower and less successful than envisaged'. However, there are numerous examples of progress at a local level...

Local successes

In January this year, just under £15 million was made available to fund health and social care transformation projects in Wigan, empowering closer partnership working between the local authority and NHS trusts.

The new Redbridge Community Health and Social Care Services (HASS) comprises four multi-disciplinary community health teams made up of social workers, occupational therapists and nurses, as well as individual specialist teams of allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and speech and language therapists.

In Bath and North East Somerset a single prime provider will co-ordinate more than 200 different community health and social care services, working with clusters of GP practices.
Leeds City Council has focused on new technology to help drive service integration, enabling health and social care practitioners to securely share information and develop a 'one workforce' approach.

Leicester City Council and Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group have worked in partnership to create an integrated urgent care and discharge pathway, leading to a dramatic reduction in delayed transfers of care.

Staffed by nurses and social workers, Worcestershire's patient flow centre collates all data about service capacity across the local health and social care system, creating streamlined discharge pathways.

The lesson from these inspirational examples is clear. Integrating health and social care isn't just about providing a better service to patients. It's also about making sure we use the skills of our dedicated healthcare workforce as productively as possible.

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