South East councils urge Hunt to back integration plan

22 Aug 16

A group of councils across the South East of England has called on Jeremy Hunt to back a plan for greater social care integration, saying they are “ready, willing and able” to lead collaboration across the region.

In a letter to the health secretary, the South East England Councils group said that it was clear that the current approach of separate health and social care systems was “unaffordable in the long-term”. The organisation, which represents 54 of the 74 councils in the region, set out a plan to help improve coordination. It suggests that councils should be recognised as equal partners to the NHS in redesigning services and agreeing a definition of integration that sets measurable goals for all organisations.

It also calls for local government to co-chair the development of sustainability and transformation plans and ensure government programmes, incentives and guidance align with these goals. This should include re-designing jobs and qualifications to bridge organisational differences between health and local government.

Roy Perry, SEEC’s deputy chair said the sustainability and transformation plans could offer a way forward for integration, but were mainly NHS led. In an initial round of appointments, only two of the eight leaders for the STP areas [not sure what this refers to] were from local government.

Rapid growth in the ageing population would mean extra social care funding would be needed, Perry stated. Current budgets will not meet needs as the number of over-75s in the South East is predicted to almost double to 1.5 million by 2039.

“We feel opportunities are being missed to create partnerships that also draw on councils’ skills in delivering efficient, locally-tailored services that meet people’s needs and focus on prevention,” he added.

The eight-point plan is:

• SEEC authorities to co-chair STPs and other initiatives

• Local authorities to be recognised as equal partners with NHS in redesigning services

• Councils to be involved in agreeing a definition of integration that sets measurable goals for all organisations

• SEEC to help ensure government programmes, incentives and guidance align with these goals

• Re-designing jobs and qualifications to bridge organisational differences

• Developing common use of data to help eliminate duplication, identify efficiencies and quantify savings

• An acknowledgement of the role that housing plays in preventing ill-health

• Light-touch guidance on essential requirements for integration

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