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15.11.18

‘Standing at a crossroads’: Health chief warns future of NHS integration risks being monopolised

Addressing delegates as his organisation’s summit, the chief executive of NHS Partners Network David Hare has warned today that “it’s decision time for NHS integration.”

Hare outlined the options going forward in regards to NHS integrated care systems (ICSs) as either being open – where a wide range of services are joined up and innovation is encouraged – or closed, where “ringfenced monopolies” of NHS providers try to do everything themselves. 

Integrated care aims to ensure patients can access joined-up services, but there are many different ways of approaching this as concerns grow over how the NHS will deliver integration. Delivering integration through a single or small number of mostly public providers could miss out on the benefits of partnerships across public, private, voluntary and social enterprise sectors.

Therefore, Hare called for the long-term NHS plan to layout a vision for “open, inclusive, innovative integrated care,” which would include recognising the important role the independent, voluntary and social enterprise providers play.

He added: “As we await the publication of the long-term plan for the health service, it’s now decision time on the NHS’s vision for health and care integration.”

Hare argued that whilst the ambition for integrated care is “absolutely the right one,” there is a risk that delivering integrated, patient-centred care may be misconstrued as simply bringing everything under one organisation where “the only people around the table being the incumbent NHS providers.”

“This would effectively shut out independent, voluntary and social enterprise sector involvement in healthcare, with vital capability and capacity lost as a result,” the CEO explained.

He continued: “Standing at a crossroads, the NHS needs to decide whether it wants to develop a 10-year plan for patients or for providers. Whether it wants to be an open, plural and dynamic system, constantly striving to provide the best possible care for patients by helping join up all the different parts that make up the NHS ecosystem; or simply just talking the talk around integration whilst unwittingly creating large unresponsive monopolies.

“It’s vital that the NHS learns from international experience and creates open, innovative systems that skilfully manage the interaction of a wide range of different providers. Otherwise it will be patients who will feel the consequences as the NHS heads towards closed systems that offer a ‘like it or lump it’ service.”

Top image: Radachynskyi 

 

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