“Seamless” integrated healthcare between primary and secondary care is the way to improve quality and save money, according to the NHS Alliance.
The primary care organisation, together with six medical speciality organisations, has provided a detailed response to the announcement in the Next Stage Review of greater emphasis on integrated care and the implementation of new pilots.
The Alliance’s report, Integrated Healthcare: from aspiration to implementation, says well-designed integrated care will avoid both clinical and administrative duplication, and make it easier to manage patients with long-term conditions and comorbidities.
It has set out a plan for joint commissioning, planning and delivering health and social care, and facilitating collaboration between the NHS, local authorities and other social care organisations.
The NHS Alliance advocates designing “integrated care organisations” (ICOs) around clusters of mature practice-based commissioning groups.
The proposals include allowing specialist doctors to work in the community, using shared information systems between primary and secondary care, and enhancing patient participation.
The paper’s principal author is Dr Minoo Irani, NHS Alliance specialists’ network lead and a consultant paediatrician. He said: “It is well understood that what our patients need is seamless healthcare. Integrated care organisations are the obvious way forward to achieve that.
“Our group has demonstrated that clinicians are ready to work together to make it happen. Now we need the active support of local NHS management.”
NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said: “ICOs will be a reality in the near future. Now we need all levels of the health service to contribute to their success.”