Integration: what physicians need to know about implementing the NHS Long Term Plan

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The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) published in 2019 set out significant structural changes in England with the aim of delivering more integrated care. This practical guide explains the changes and what physicians can do locally to support and influence the development of integrated care.

Key recommendations

  • Integrated care is seamless, coordinated and locally designed care that puts patients at the centre of service organisation. It considers their needs in a holistic way, and develops high-quality services that meet those needs in settings that are accessible and convenient for patients.
  • There is rightly a renewed political focus on integration. In an ageing society where multiple health conditions are becoming the norm, more joined-up healthcare is essential. This should lead to better outcomes and an improved experience for patients.
  • The NHS Long Term Plan outlines the government’s commitment to prioritising more integrated care. Chiefly this will be through the rollout of ICSs - where organisations such as local councils, acute trusts and CCGs will take collective responsibility for resources such as funding and workforce - which will cover all of England by 2021.
  • It is important that physicians influence the development of ICSs in their local area, as there will be no national blueprint. Each ICS will define its own priorities and how it operates, so it is vital physicians are involved from the start.
  • Physicians can benefit from learning the lessons of ‘good integration’ and top tips from those at the forefront of integrating services. For example, the importance of properly involving patients, commissioners, public health and primary care to develop intelligent KPIs (key performance indicators).

What next?

As the drive to deliver more integrated care gathers pace, the RCP will ensure the views of clinicians and patients are paramount. We will also continue to urge the government to match its ambitious plans with the appropriate resources.

In 2020, we will publish a document exploring the key principles of integrated care in more detail. It will revisit the Future Hospital development sites and consider what lessons can be learned from them.

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