NHS and councils urged to speed up health and social care integration

NHS and council bosses are being urged to increase the “pace and effectiveness” of work to integrate health and social care.

A new report said while the organisations set up to bring together these services operate in an “extremely challenging environment” there is still “much more to be done”.

A review of progress in bringing together services was carried out by senior figures from the NHS and local government, including NHS Scotland chief executive Paul Gray (pictured) and Sally Loudon, the chief executive of the council umbrella group Cosla.

Integrating health and social care services is being taken forward in a bid to provide better, more seamless care and to ensure people can access the help and support they need.

But the review said the relationships and collaborative working between must improve in the next 12 months – adding this also applied to relationships between the NHS, councils, charities and independent providers.

It also said integrated joint boards (IJBs) – which bring together NHS boards, councils and others – needed to “use the totality of resources at their disposal to better meet the needs of their local populations”.

Spending should be more focused on outcomes and “not which public body put in which pound to the pot”, the review added.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Truly integrated services, focused on the needs of citizens, require our leadership and personal commitment.

“I am pleased that the Scottish Government and Cosla are working in partnership to ensure the success of integration.

“We need to act together and in our individual roles to accelerate progress.”

She added: “There are challenges we must address and we recognise that we need to adapt, compromise and support one another to deliver integration for the people of Scotland.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, Cosla’s health and social care spokesman, said: “Good progress has been made under integration to date but, as highlighted by Audit Scotland last year, there is always more we can do to achieve improved outcomes for our communities.

“Cosla welcomes the proposals and their broad endorsement across the system sends a strong message of commitment to the health and social care integration agenda.”

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