Simon Stevens, has been asked to make financial savings within the NHS of close to £100bn over the five years from 2015. He has pledged to do so. However, we question whether the integration of services is the right way to do this with little evidence to support the short and medium term financial savings it may offer.
Integrating hospital and community services will prove to be a challenge for the NHS. If we are to achieve this goal of integration, as healthcare leaders, we must be mindful of these challenges.
Caring for the elderly is often the core business of NHS organisations. It will be nearly impossible to keep the elderly away from hospital wards, and yet should hospitals fail to address the complex needs of the elderly, we risk long term problems such as the 10% loss of muscle mass accumulated during hospital stays.
The Better Care fund - It is there...but does anyone want it? Who will use it? and does anyone have any better ideas right now? The fun was set up pool health and social care budgets for improved collaboration. However, the different funding strategies for health and social care drive a wedge between what it can be now used for.
The NHS is in a financial hole, and social care is taking up it's last financial reserves. Local government has already had cuts over the past five years averaging up to 40%. The cost of providing care is likely to rise, and following the introduction of the health and social care act, many more people will be entitled to support from their local authority. The challenge will be to have the nation lead healthier lives for less.
Social care has been known as the poor cousin of the NHS. The recent Care Act promises real progress in delivering efficient care, yet the cost of its implementation may be affordable in some areas. The challenge will be to ensure that all health authorities have the opportunity to improve their service efficiency and avoid inequalitiy in service provisions.
A genuine integration of health and social care is required. We must ensure that services can complement each other and work efficiently together in order to focus upon what individuals may need. The challenge will be to encourage central government to empower local government and council's to take on a leadership role in lighting the way forward.
We have seen a number of health and social care integration projects, however, much of the success of health and social care integration hangs upon the pioneering project to devolve the health budget in Manchester. This project holds an optimists hope and aims to improve health outcomes.
There are exciting times ahead as new projects could lead to a real revolution in the way healthcare is managed and delivered.
We are on board with these ideas...preparing for the future through effective planning, leadership and alternative strategies.