Improve integrated care, MPs tell NHS

11 Jun 18

The NHS has today been urged to improve efforts to integrate care based on close co-operation with local authorities in order to improve services.

Integrated care will give patients a more “holistic, joined-up and coordinated experience”, according to the health and social care select committee. 

However, MPs heard that Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships, in which local authorities and the NHS work together to provide coordinated care, had “got off to a difficult start”.

This was due to accusations that STPs were a “smokescreen” for cuts as well as to poor communication between local bodies and their communities.

But the committee, in a report released today, suggested nonetheless that, despite funding pressures, some of the 44 existing STPs have made “considerable progress”.

In their report the MPs said that Integrated Care Systems, in which local bodies take collective responsibility for the health and social care of their populations within a defined budget, have made good progress in difficult circumstances.

“Whilst there is not sufficient evidence that integrated care saves money or improves outcomes in the short term” the committee’s report said, these systems offer “compelling reasons” to be believe that it is worthwhile.

The report highlighted concerns about privatisation in the NHS caused by interest in Accountable Care Organisations, whereby NHS providers agree to merge into a single organisation or commissioners invite bids from organisations capable of taking on a contract to deliver services to a defined population.

The committee said: “Public debate about the introduction of ACOs into the English NHS has been confused by concerns, mostly stemming from organisations with origins in the US which are different but also called ACOs.”

The committee’s suggestions are that the government and national leaders should:

  • develop a national transformation strategy backed by secure long-term funding supporting areas to accelerate integrated care;
  • commit to establishing a dedicated, ring-fenced transformation fund;
  • explain the benefits of joined-up services to patients;
  • create legislative proposals to overcome fragmentation and legal barriers arising from the Health and Social Care Act 2012.


Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, hailed this as a “landmark” report and added: “It rightly dismisses all the nonsense about privatisation but it also challenges us all about how to shape the future and bring patients with us.

“The promise of a longer-term settlement provides a great opportunity to involve doctors nurses and managers as well as other frontline staff in setting shared goals for health and care for the next decade.”

Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts, said: “We agree with the committee that much of the debate around Accountable Care Organisations has been confused and misleading.

“We need a clearer strategy to support the move to integrated care.

“The forthcoming long-term funding settlement presents a good opportunity to invest in transforming the NHS, adapting it to meet the changing needs of local communities.”

Prime minister Theresa May promised she will provide a multi-year funding settlement for the NHS in March this year

Last week, NHS unions agreed a 6.5% pay deal.

Did you enjoy this article?