Headlines: February 9th, 2015

The integration of health and social care services at patient level is taking too long to become a reality, says Monitor, the health watchdog.

Baroness Hanham, Chariman of Monitor, called for services to be integrated more urgently so people can benefit from care that is better co-ordinated and joined-up.

Baroness Hanham acknowledged that the “demarcation between health and social care is beginning to disappear”, but argued that the challenges currently facing the health sector mean that care must be integrated at a quicker pace.

She also set out how the regulator is working to make integrated care a reality, explaining that Monitor’s role is “both to remove the obstacles that slow down integration and also to provide incentives to speed it up.”

She described how Monitor can take action against providers if they stand in the way of integrating care, and uses its role in designing the NHS payment system to encourage integrated service delivery.

Baroness Hanham said: “Integrated care has to be the future. Not only because it means that people can have more tailored and individual plans for their care. It should mean that they do not need to attend hospital for check up or treatments so frequently.

And it may mean that, ultimately, by joining-up resources there can be a rebalancing of expenditure between health settings and between health and social care.

Change needs to happen, and we do need a sense of urgency about this.”