SCIE media statement

Supporting health and social care integration

22 September 2011

Clinical commissioning and long term conditions – new briefing

Today sees the launch of valuable information to help GPs in their new roles as clinical commissioners.  The briefing shows how working with social care services can improve patients’ health outcomes and improve efficiency.

Social care and clinical commissioning for people with long-term conditions is published by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), in partnership with The King’s Fund.

GPs treat around 15 million people with long term conditions such as mental health problems, dementia or stroke symptoms. Their treatment makes up half of all GP appointments and 70% of healthcare expenditure. It is here that social care can help most as this population will need ongoing personal care and support, as well as clinical care.

The briefing introduces GPs to: how social care works and is funded; the implications of personalising social care for healthcare; and examples of how care and health services are working together effectively. It looks at how GPs and social care staff can work together to develop new relationships, plan and coordinate care, and fund and commission the best and most efficient services.

SCIE’s Director of Adult Services, David Walden, says:

This briefing provides GPs and clinical commissioners with a straightforward introduction to working with social care.  Better integration can improve outcomes, improve patients’ experiences and make the best use of scarce resources. People want, and increasingly expect, more choice and control, provided by joined-up services.

The King’s Fund’s Senior Fellow, Richard Humphries, says:

This briefing will help GPs to provide more integrated care for patients by supporting them to play a bigger part in the designing services.  One vital area will be the development of relationships between health, and social care professionals. As one of the authors, I am hoping that the “At a glance” will be a quick way of developing new skills, for those GPs who are looking to improve their knowledge of integrated working.

Challenges and ways forward

A key concern of GPs and social care professionals has been the inaccessibility of each other’s services and expertise. This can result in inappropriate referrals from GPs, while GPs are not clear about the services and skills that social care can offer. SCIE and the King’s Fund say that more integrated health and social care support offers a way forward. This can be done by building relationships, resolving misunderstandings, simplifying care pathways and reducing organisational barriers between different agencies.

Practical help

The briefing provides practical tips on areas such as how GPs can work with social care services, the make-up of social care users and what social care means in terms of commissioning. Examples of integrated working are highlighted, looking at a GP practice in Norfolk, and at how Torbay Care Trust has established five integrated health and social care teams that are organised in localities aligned with general practices.

Launch at RCGP conference

The briefing is being launched today at a Royal College of General Practitioners’ conference. This one-day event provides expert specialist clinical training and essential information on dementia for GPs and their practice colleagues.

Links

Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: media@scie.org.uk

Notes

Policy context

Following the NHS Future Forum report, the Health and Social Care Bill will (subject to parliamentary approval) place stronger duties on the NHS Commissioning Board, clinical commissioning groups, Health and Wellbeing boards and Monitor to encourage integrated working at all levels (Hansard 2011). Integrated care is also one of the strands of a second phase of the NHS Future Forum’s work, launched in August 2011.

By 2015, the NHS is expected to find £20bn of efficiency savings to maintain quality and service levels and absorb demographic pressures. It is reported that 20 per cent must come from ‘deep service change’ for which commissioning groups will be responsible (Ireland 2011). This figure is partly based on the assumed benefits from clinical commissioners working collaboratively with social care.

Long term conditions

There are around 15 million people in England with at least one LTC. Their treatment makes up 50 per cent of GP appointments and 70 per cent of the primary and acute care budget in England. GPs, not hospitals, deal with the majority of LTCs, and in future, will have to manage the growing demand arising from the ageing population. LTCs increase with age, with the Department of Health predicting a 252 per cent increase in people aged over 65 with one or more conditions by 2050. It is here that social care can help most in the ongoing support of people with LTCs affecting their physical, mental and psychological health.