Integrated care whitepaper image
The Department of Health and Social Care’s legislative proposals for a Health and Care Bill

Following the publication of the UK Government’s whitepaper about NHS and social care reform on the 11th of February, key figures from Healthwatch England and ADASS have shared their responses.

The document sets out legislative proposals for a Health and Care Bill, with a focus on integrated care and more joint-up working between healthcare, social care, housing, the third sector and service delivery partners.

Importantly, the document states that the NHS and social care will have a statutory duty to collaborate and that the government will bring forward measures for statutory integrated care systems (ICSs).

Recognising the importance of collaboration mentioned within the whitepaper, Imelda Redmond CBE, National Director at Healthwatch England, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how crucial it is that health and social care services work well together and so we need to build on that.

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“Proposals to strengthen collaboration between services is a step in the right direction and can bring real benefits for patients, address the wider factors of health and support people to live better, healthier lives.

“We support hundreds of thousands of people across the country every year to share about their experiences and views of health and social care. We know the focus on integrating services will be well received by the public who want a more joined up and personalised experience. And so we particularly welcome the commitment to strengthen and assess patient voice at every level of the system– a crucial step towards helping everyone get the care they need, regardless of age, ethnicity and health conditions.

“There is a lot more detail to work through in the months to come but we look forward to working with the Government on these proposals to ensure the views of patients, service users and the public are used to shape decision making at all levels within the health and care services.”

Agreeing that the push towards integrated care is a step in the right direction, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) President James Bullion added that more joined-up support across different sectors will help improve health and wellbeing outcomes for older and disabled people.

“We welcome the white paper, which includes important measures to strengthen assurance within adult social care and to place integrated care on a more permanent footing, with a clear role for local authorities and a cementing of the working relationships among adult social care, NHS community services, mental health and primary care that have been such a positive feature of the response to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

“In our nine statements to help shape adult social care reform we have called for better-integrated working so that people can benefit from more joined-up support.

“We look forward to working with colleagues in government and across social care, including individuals who need and use care and support and their families, to co-produce a strengthened model of assurance so that together we achieve better outcomes for older and disabled people.

“Publication of this white paper should be seen as the first step in an important journey over the coming months that will help shape all of our futures. We note that the white paper reaffirms that proposals to reform social care will be published later this year.

“These must incorporate all outstanding issues, including a workforce plan to put social care staff on an equal footing with workers in the NHS, greatly improved support for family carers and a commitment to long-term funding to develop the kind of care and support that will enable us all to live the lives we want in the place we want to be.”

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