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Integrated care must be a priority, says report

5 January 2012

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Integrated care should receive the same priority in 2012 as the reduction in waiting times did in previous years, it is recommended.

A joint report by think tanks the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust, claims integrated care is essential if the NHS is to meet the needs of an ageing population and transform care for people with long term conditions.

It calls up upon the government to articulate a “clear and compelling” case to inspire change and create an environment in which integration care can be achieved at pace and scale.

This, the report claims, is the only way the NHS can overcome its entrenched ‘permission-based’ management culture that can often discourage innovation.

“Integrated care can be delivered without further legislative change or structural upheaval and would be embraced by the professions and NHS staff,” said Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund.

“It is time to move from pockets of good practice to ensure it is a must do priority and make it the core business of everyone involved in health and social care.”

Financial incentives rewarding good patient outcomes will help speed up the creation of truly integrated care in the NHS, the report claims.

Other recommendations proposed by the think tanks include: the setting of measurable goals to be delivered by a defined date, enhanced patient guarantees and increased clarity from the government on competition rules in the new NHS.

The report follows the NHS Future Forum’s plea for the NHS to “move beyond arguing for integration to making it happen.”