PCRS statement on the Government White Paper on Integrate Care
The Primary Care Respiratory Society (PCRS) broadly welcomes the proposed reforms set out in the new Government Health White Paper, Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all published on 11th February 2021.
The White Papers sets out plans for legislation (to be introduced later this year) to formalise and promote integration between NHS bodies and established better integration between the NHS and local government. The NHS and local authorities will be given a duty to collaborate with each other under newly created Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), comprised of an NHS ICS body and an ICS Health and Care Partnership. Health bodies will be required to deliver on a ‘the triple aim’ of better health and wellbeing for everyone, better quality of health services for all individuals, and sustainable use of NHS resources.
PCRS strongly supports the further integration of health and social care and welcomes the White Paper’s focus on prevention, healthy lifestyles, healthy behaviours and a holistic approach to patient care – treating people not just conditions. We welcome recognition that there must be flexibility and that plans and services should draw on the experience and expertise of local clinical experts and front line staff. Place based population focus, safety, sharing data, removing barriers to integration through joint committees and joint appointments, and strengthening patient voice are all principles PCRS has long advocated.
They are principles reflected in our resources, guidance and opinion from Fit To Care to our position on the environmental impact of treating respiratory disease. As a professional society we have worked to deliver an integrated approach to care for a number of years, welcoming membership and committee representation form a diverse professional background bridging the integrated care spectrum. We welcome further structural and legislative powers to improve this process in delivery of patient care.
As the paper recognises however, legislation alone will not achieve this vision of transformation and much of the detail around delivery, improvements in social care, funding, workforce planning, training, IT and investment is yet to be scoped out. We note with caution some of the additional powers that will be given to the Secretary of State and trust he will continue to be guided by those best placed to offer advice.
Carol Stonham, Executive Chair of PCRS said “It will be important to ensure that the voice of primary and community care is properly represented on the new NHS bodies. Whilst we welcome new hospitals and more nurses, investment in IT, infrastructure and resources are needed across the board, in GP practices, in the community, amongst practice nurses, clinicians, physios and community pharmacy if we are to properly realise a vision of consistently high standards of integrated care for all. Above all, there will need to be a significant investment in education and training to ensure that integrated care is properly understood, and integral to culture and thinking of the NHS. There is still a lot of work to do to make truly integrated care a reality.”
PCRS looks forward to seeing more detail on the proposals, due to be released later in the year.