The changes being made

A number of initiatives are supporting the ICS vision, including:

Social prescribing: Social prescribing is being used across Suffolk and North East Essex, where people are referred to a range of non-clinical community services such as walking clubs or self-help groups (often provided by local voluntary groups) to support their health and wellbeing.

Locality alliances: Three locality alliances that will cover Ipswich and East Suffolk, West Suffolk and North East Essex will be at the heart of the integrated care system. Each alliance, which includes NHS, local authority and voluntary sector representation, is developing a delivery plan for each of its areas. The alliances’ ambition will be to improve health, wellbeing and care functions for the areas they serve. They will also provide community services for local people closer to home by bringing together local organisations under a new commissioning arrangement known as strategic commissioning.

Improved mental health services: The CCGs in Suffolk have further invested in early intervention in psychosis, psychiatric liaison and child and adult mental health services. A new county-wide mental health strategy has been launched in North East Essex, which includes working with communities to promote mental wellbeing for all, while ensuring support is available to people at the earliest opportunity, with a focus on support for recovery, promoting inclusion and empowerment.

The new Suffolk Perinatal Mental Health Service is offering specialist support to new mums with severe post-natal depression and other complex mental health issues. It is available to women during pregnancy, at the time of birth and up to a year following the birth.

Hospitals working together: Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals have entered into a long-term partnership which will see them working more closely together to provide specialised services which meet the needs of local people and deliver improved safety and quality of care. West Suffolk and Ipswich Hospitals are working closely with GPs and community partners to develop new models of urgent care and community services for patients.

Support to go home service: A ‘care-bridging’ service hosted by West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) in partnership with Suffolk County Council is seeing patients return home more quickly and helping to save bed days in the hospital. The support to go home team aims to make sure patients can still be discharged home even if there’s a delayed start date for their out-of-hospital care package. Care is provided seven days a week, in a patient’s home, and includes support with washing, dressing, medication prompts and meal preparation.

Improved appointment booking system: Nine GP surgeries in North East Essex (including four in Tendring) are taking part in a pilot to implement the national care navigation programme. Care navigation has been designed by doctors and other clinical staff to ensure patients are supported to access the right service for their needs with minimal delay and inconvenience. Patients will still phone their surgery number but their call will be answered by a care navigator who will ask them a few questions to ensure they get the most appropriate service.