A new project that will see health and social care become more integrated will go live on 1 April, the Scottish Government has announced.
From next month, all NHS and social services in Scotland will be unified under a total of 31 local partnership agreements. Professionals such as community nurses, social workers, GPs and mental health nurses in Scotland will all be involved in the new way of working.
The Scottish Government have said that the new services will be particularly focused on supporting the elderly to remain in the community, who currently account for 96% of delayed discharges and 83% of unplanned admissions to hospital.
‘Our residents are getting older and will require increasing levels and a greater range of support services in the years to come,’ said Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership’s chief officer Robert Packham. ‘People living in the city, in small towns and remote communities will require public services to be delivered in different ways. Change on this scale takes time, yet we start with a clear vision for the future.’
The integration of services has been designed to foster a better working relationship between primary and secondary care services to reduce readmission to hospital and improve the care delivered in the community.The partnerships will manage almost £8billion of health and social care resources
‘Integration is one of the most ambitious programmes of work this Government has ever undertaken, and one which we believe will deliver health and social care services that work more efficiently around the needs of patients,’ said Shona Robison, the Scottish health minister. ‘Many local areas have already seized this opportunity and are developing new ways of working that benefit their patients. This is what we had always anticipated – local areas making local decisions about their local services.’
According to the Scottish Government, many services have been using partnerships in ‘shadow form’ during 2015/16 and some have already started to deliver results. Initial research in these areas has shown a 21% decrease in patients waiting over three days to be discharged from hospital in January 2016, compared to the same time last year.