Headlines: January 23rd, 2009

Providing a better experience for those who need health or social care is the driving force behind this new consultation on how to improve the assessment process. Progress on integrating the activities of those who provide health services with those who provide social care is limited by failure to share data and ways to resolve the problem are being sought. There is general agreement that the assessment process for people who need health and social care services should be quicker, simpler and more convenient.

The consultation aims to create a more efficient and transparent system of information sharing, to avoid patients having to answer the same questions several times and ensure that people receive the best quality care and support. It includes how best to safely and securely share personal information across health and social care services as well as wider community services such as housing. Views will be sought on what information should be commonly shared and who it might be shared with.

The new system that will emerge from the consultation will need to reflect the fact that people are being given the power to choose and commission their own care and support services through recent reforms outlined in Putting People First.

The consultation will run alongside a number of demonstrator sites where local authority led partnerships will be working to test and evaluate the practical changes needed. Managers of the demonstrator sites will take into account people’s feedback from the consultation. A first wave of demonstrator sites is expected to start shortly, and a call for interest in a second wave is expected in the summer.

Emerging evidence and good practice will be provided regularly from the three year work of the demonstrator sites which will evaluate evidence on benefits for patients, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness across the system. This evidence will be used to inform local developments and further national guidance.