Revolving Doors welcomes NHS Future Forum recommendations on integration
11 January 2012
Revolving Doors welcomes the government’s commitment to “encourage joined-up commissioning, and integrated provision” in healthcare, as outlined in yesterday’s response to the second phase report by the NHS Future Forum.
In its response, the government has accepted all the recommendations of the Future Forum report, which opens with a letter to health secretary Andrew Lansley from the Forum’s chair Professor Steve Field. Professor Field recognises that it is often the most vulnerable people who fall “through the gaps between services”, unable to “navigate their way through the convoluted ‘system’.”
We welcome the report’s focus on improving integration, and the call for Health and Wellbeing Boards to become the “crucible of health and social care integration”. In particular, we welcome the recommendation that “all commissioners must fully and properly explore the potential benefits of joint commissioning and pooled budgets for key populations requiring integrated approaches; such as…people with mental health problems and the socially excluded including the homeless.”
However, while the government recognises that “partnerships with other local services” will be essential in reducing unacceptable health inequalities, there is no detail on which partners will be involved and how these partnerships will be supported or encouraged.
In order to address the complex and interrelated needs of people with multiple needs, it is vital that this integration extends beyond the boundaries of health and social care to wider services including criminal justice agencies. This should be reflected in the commissioning guidance for Clinical Commissioning Groups on “how to meet the need of different groups of people who may have multiple problems” which the government has committed to produce.
We also strongly support the government’s recognition that “patients with complex conditions or long-term conditions should have a coordinating point for all their care”. The Future Forum report describes this as a “named person or team who acts as a coordinating point for all their care, taking into account their personal preferences.” Our work has shown that this kind of support is vital for people who experience many simultaneous problems and who have a history of poor engagement with services. We urge the government to extend this type of support to a wide range of groups, including those in repeat contact with the criminal justice system.