Government launches blueprint to join up NHS and social care in England

The proposals include the development of a data strategy for health and social care.
By Tammy Lovell
11:48 AM
nhs, covid

Health secretary Matt Hancock today (11 Feb) set out plans to reform the NHS and deliver a more joined up health and care system.

A government white paper outlines proposals to make integrated care systems (ICSs) the default across England, reduce legal bureaucracy, and better support social care, public health and the NHS.

The proposals include the development of a data strategy for health and social care, which aims to “bust bureaucracy” by improving the way data is collected and shared.

Under the reforms, the health and care sector will be enabled to “use technology in a modern way” by improving the quality and availability of data, the paper states.

It adds that “improvement in the interoperability of systems will mean that data will be able to be collected through provider systems, reducing reporting burdens by extracting from existing data sets and sharing with multiple users.”

The proposals also include simplifying procurement processes, so the NHS will only need to tender services when it has the potential to lead to better outcomes for patients. 

A bill is due to be laid before Parliament later this year.

WHY IT MATTERS

The proposals, which build on the NHS Long Term Plan, are intended to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by stripping away unnecessary legislative bureaucracy, empowering local leaders and services and tackling health inequalities.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

The white paper follows the launch, earlier this week, of a review into the efficient and safe use of health data for research and analysis, lead by Dr Ben Goldacre, director of the DataLab at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford.

This will complement the forthcoming Data Strategy for Health and Care, led by NHSX, which will set the direction for the use of data in a post-pandemic healthcare system.

ON THE RECORD

Hancock said: “The proposals build on what the NHS has called for and will become the foundations for a health and care system which is more integrated, more innovative and responsive, and more ready to respond to the challenges of tomorrow, from health inequalities to our ageing population.”

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “Our legislative proposals go with the grain of what patients and staff across the health service all want to see – more joined-up care, less legal bureaucracy and a sharper focus on prevention, inequality and social care.”

Ed Garratt, executive lead for the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System, said:

“I welcome the white paper, as the lead of an integrated care system, as it gives clearer accountability for the NHS and at a system level formalises shared governance across the NHS, local government and other partners. The proposals will support greater collective effort on improving outcomes for our population, which is the ultimate purpose of our work.”

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