The system is working on six key priorities:
- Prevention: This includes health promotion in schools, people knowing how to look after minor illnesses at home, helping people with long term conditions to manage their symptoms, making sure older people don’t become socially isolated, increasing early diagnosis and reducing preventable illnesses and deaths, encouraging people with learning disabilities to have annual health checks, and embedding health and care in the planning of jobs, transport and housing.
- Mental health, not just physical health: The mental health needs of children, young people and adults are not currently being treated together with their physical needs. This can lead to issues such as social isolation, self-harm, physical health conditions being left untreated and people dying early. The integrated care system will support people with teams close to home and provide support for mental health in A&E to take into account both physical and mental health needs.
- Investment in local care: The integrated care system wants to invest in GP services and community care, with more care delivered locally including some tests and investigations, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, managing minor injuries and minor surgery. GP practices will work more closely together with greater involvement from community care, mental health, learning disability services and voluntary sectors. There will also be improved access to primary care in the evening and at weekends.
- Joining up health and social care: The integrated care system wants services to work together so that the focus is not on health alone, but also on social care requirements. This will include new neighbourhood teams that bring different services together, support for vulnerable people in getting the extra help they need, and sharing information so that patients don’t need to repeat themselves to different professionals.
- Getting the right hospital care: The integrated care system wants to provide services locally where possible, so people only have to travel further for specific expertise when it’s absolutely necessary. This will mean hospitals sharing staff and resources, working with community services to deliver the right care out of hospital and making sure quality, safety and waiting time targets are met. The way specialist services are provided will also be reviewed to make the best use of facilities and expert staff. This may mean having highly specialist services in one location as centres of excellence.
- Care needed urgently or in an emergency: The system wants to deliver urgent care services – such as GPs, mental health services, ambulances and walk-in centres – that are more organised and coordinated, with stronger links between hospitals so that patients with the most serious needs get to specialist emergency centres. It also plans to introduce mental health liaison teams in A&E to support patients with both physical and mental health needs.