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Integrated care about more than cost-cutting, says Alliance

4 August 2008

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Integrating primary, secondary and community care services will improve patient services, says the NHS Alliance, which has set out a proposed framework for new “integrated care organisations” (ICOs).

The primary care organisation advocates the adoption of ICOs, in which clinicians and managers across different healthcare sectors collaborate to commission and provide healthcare services to their local population.

Health Minister Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review announced there would be a pilot for such an integrated care strategy.

The NHS Alliance insists that while integrated care schemes “may well prove to save money for the NHS … that is not their principal aim”.

In a press statement, the Alliance said: “Integrated care is about better, more effective services and improved patient experience.

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“That can only happen, though, if there is clarity about the essential requirements of integrated care, its objectives and appropriate performance measures.

“But that clarity has to allow flexibility and local decisions about which of a number of possible models should be adopted in any particular locality.”

The NHS Alliance’s ICO proposals include the following recommendations:

  • Patient and public participation at individual and collective levels to ensure patient satisfaction and to enhance patient engagement with health improvement measures.
  • Emphasis on prevention and reduction of ill health.
  • Collaboration across primary, community and secondary care boundaries, and across health and social care boundaries as well.
  • A requirement that proposals should cover the whole disease spectrum, so as to avoid cherry picking.
  • Emphasis on clinical leadership.

NHS Alliance Chairman Dr Michael Dixon said: “This is what the NHS should be about. Providing seamless, patient-centred care within a defined budget, with measurable clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.”

NHS Alliance