[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 2 Issue 5, December 2011].
The Audit Commission’s report “Joining Up Health and Social Care: Improving Value for Money Across the Interface” indicates that integrated working across health and social care offers the potential for efficiency savings combined with improving outcomes for people. This briefing shows how the NHS and councils have achieved only patchy progress on joint working across health and social care so far. There are significant differences in the care received by people aged 65 and over across the country.
Savings may be made by reducing the use of expensive hospital or residential care.
Andy McKeon, Managing Director of Health at the Audit Commission, said:
“Most older people want to continue living independently in their own homes, if possible, avoid admission to hospital and, ultimately, die at home… these things are key elements of health and social care policy”.
Poor integration across health and social care brings about the ongoing problems of duplication and “cost-shunting” whereby savings made by one organisation or sector create costs for others. Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), for example, could save money by reducing the number of people admitted to hospitals in an emergency (with enormous economies); but with increased costs for local authorities. Moreover, the lack of integrated working often means people do not get the best care.
This report offers practical guidance for local partnerships, with positive suggestions, illustrative case studies and examples of the use of local data and benchmarking to determine how and where improvements could be made. NHS and social care partnerships can use the free tool accompanying this briefing to benchmark their performance.
Audit Commission (2011). Joining up health and social care: improving value for money across the interface. London: Audit Commission, December 2011.