The UK’s largest integrated care system has been announced and will cover three million people in the far north of England.
NHS England said that 21 million people will now be covered by this new approach, which also, for the first time, reaches into London in its south-east. Integrated care systems involve NHS organisations, GP practices and councils working closely together and pooling budgets on key projects.
They stop short of being integrated care providers, which would be single organisations running a range of health and care services. According to NHS England, they have enabled new ways of working to be provided through GP practices.
Gloucestershire says it will be providing 10,000 extra appointments in general practices together with home visits from paramedics and physiotherapists. In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, new services for people with atrial fibrillation are being provided in practices.
In the new system covering the north-east and north Cumbria, some £2 million is to be spent on improved diagnosis and treatment of cancer through a shared digital pathology service. The region has 71 primary care networks and these are to be expanded with offers of technology and information to help identify high-risk patients.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “These areas are among those showing the real gains of collaboration: helping more people to stay well and avoid needless trips to hospital, while making it easier to get high-quality specialist care.
“We must keep a laser focus on making services as convenient as possible – everyone should feel like they are dealing with one system instead of having to repeat their story to a series of different organisations.”