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Integration pioneers announced

Pioneer initiatives are being launched in 14 areas to join up NHS services with what's available in the community, care minister Norman Lamb has announced.

The pioneers are providing better support in the community and at home to prevent emergency care through better coordination. They were selected by an expert panel and the 14 areas are: Worcestershire; Waltham Forest and East London and City; Southend; South Devon and Torbay; North Staffordshire; North West London; Kent; Leeds; Islington; Greenwich; Cornwall and Isles of Scilly; Cheshire; and Barnsley.

Other ways of working include reduced waiting times for physiotherapy services from eight weeks to just 48 hours, and setting up a crisis house for people with mental health problems to seek intensive support.

Lamb said: “Too often care is uncoordinated, leaving too many people needlessly entering the revolving door of their local A&E again and again, because somewhere in the system their care has broken down.

“We have heard people talk about integration before, but it has never truly taken hold across the NHS. These pioneers are a starting gun for the NHS and social care to achieve a common goal – to get local health and care services working together, not separately, in the interests of the people that they all serve.

“These 14 pioneers will test new ways of working for everyone to learn from, and drive forward genuine change for the future.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg added: “We need to join up care around people’s lives, not force them to fit their lives around the care they need. The pioneers will champion this joined up approach, sharing their good ideas with doctors and nurses across the country so that we get better care in every area.”

Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer at NHS England, called for a health and social care system that was “truly seamless” and implemented integrated multi-agency working to meet growing pressures and demand.

“Today’s announcement is an important catalyst for this change and a real opportunity to help improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Toby Lambert, director of strategy and policy at Monitor, said: “We look forward to helping the pioneers provide people with innovative and coordinated health and social care that meets their needs.”

And Don Redding, director of policy at National Voices, added: “Joining up care around the needs of the individual is the biggest step forward in quality that people who use services want to see. Now we are looking to these pioneers, with their exciting visions of person centred care, to demonstrate what is possible.”

Lord Michael Bichard, executive chair, Social Care Institute for Excellence said: “There is broad consensus from people who use, provide and commission services that more integrated care is better and more cost effective. The challenge now is how to do it well.”

Sandie Keene, president of ADASS called it a “landmark” announcement, which would bring better delivery, satisfaction and value for patients.

Richard Jeavons, interim managing director at NHS Improving Quality (NHSIQ), said:

“The pioneer sites have a key role to play in making integrated care a reality, by developing innovative new approaches that others can learn from.”

Cllr Katie Hall, chair of the LGA’s Health and Wellbeing Board, welcomed the initiative and looked forward to a future of “better, more coordinated care and support”.

She said: “It is really important that we share the learning from the Pioneer areas, with those areas not selected, to ensure that all areas benefit from the wider programme of support planned, recognising too that non-Pioneer areas will also have a great deal to offer.”

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England said: “The education and training of healthcare staff is vital in the widespread adoption of integrated care across the NHS, public health and social care systems.

“We will work with the pioneers and health and care partners to build on existing work such as skills passports and national minimum training standards, in order to develop common standards and portable qualifications to make it easier for staff to work and move between settings.”

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