Headlines: November 5th, 2013

Fourteen pioneering initiatives have been launched to transforming the way health and care is being delivered to patients by bringing services closer together. The original total place pilot project in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset found that it was possible to save £12m by refocusing resources from acute care for older people to supporting them to live at home and thereby reducing hospital admissions by some 15 per cent. The pioneering project reported in 2010.

The pilots will showcase innovative ways of creating change in the health service, which the Government and national partners want to see spread across the country. The pilots were selected by a panel of experts, including international experts drawing together global expertise and experience of how good joined up care works in practice.

The aim is to make health and social care services work together to provide better support at home and earlier treatment in the community to prevent people needing emergency care in hospital or care homes.

Results so far from these approaches include 2,000 fewer patient admissions over a two and a half year period, achieved through teams of nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists working together to prevent crises. Waiting times have been reduced from eight weeks to 48 hours at physiotherapy services by making professionals work closer together.

With the number of people with more than one long term condition such as diabetes, asthma or dementia set to rise from 1.9 million in 2008 to 2.9 million in 2018 and increasing pressures on A&E departments, the need to deliver better joined-up care and a more sustainable NHS has never been more urgent.

Chris Ham, Chief Executive, The King’s Fund, said: ‘Delivering integrated care at scale and pace is a major challenge for the modern NHS. To meet the needs of an ageing population and of the growing number of people with long-term conditions, joined-up care and support must become central to the work of health and social care services. We welcome the announcement of 14 pilot areas, which shows that the momentum for change and experimentation is gathering.”

‘There is no single best way to achieve more joined-up care. I hope the pioneer programme will allow communities to innovate and build on different approaches taken by local leaders. The King’s Fund has already worked with teams from many of these sites in recent years, and we know that they have a keen appetite to tackle critical issues that have in the past been a barrier to integrated care.”