[H]ealth and care leaders across north Cumbria are celebrating the inclusion of the area in a national pilot to link up health and care services.
North Cumbria Health and Care System has been confirmed by NHS England as part of the next wave of Integrated Care Systems (ICS), putting our area at the forefront of national policy.
It gives the green light for further integrating some health and care services across artificial organisational boundaries, making it easier for teams to work together for the benefit of patients and communities.
Stephen Eames, who leads health services across north Cumbria, said, “This is fantastic news for us all. This national recognition for the way we are working means we are at the cutting edge.
“We have been told by NHS England that we are exemplar for the ways in which local organisations should work together. This demonstrates confidence in our plans, and we know this is how funding will be allocated in the future so it really is very promising.
“We have already been successful in recent funding rounds securing more than £65 million which will be used for the next phase of the redevelopment of West Cumberland Hospital and the new cancer centre in Carlisle.
Stephen Eames is also the chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust (NCUH) and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).
He added: “We now have a real opportunity to break down the barriers that make it difficult for our people to work together which can only be good news for patients.”
This will help organisations work together to help improve the health and wellbeing of our local communities.
Cumbria County Councillor Peter Thornton, cabinet member for health and care services added: “We are all working towards a health and care system which is easy to use and based around keeping people in good health rather than just fixing things when they go wrong. Councils have a part to play and Cumbria County Council is committed to making this happen by working closely alongside our health partners.”
There has already been work to establish co-production – staff, members of the community and leaders working together – to develop services.
Working as an Integrated Care System will help organisations work together to improve the health and wellbeing of our local communities. Examples from north Cumbria include:
A new Delirium Service at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital. It helps patients at risk of becoming confused during their stay in hospital which can affect over 40 per cent of hospital inpatients. Delirium is mental confusion which can sometimes occur when people are unwell and has a number of causes such as infections, dehydration and pain; but with the right support it can be managed or even avoided. The service is the first of its kind in the UK and has been co-produced by mental health specialists and clinicians from across the North Cumbria Health and Care System with input from patients and carers. The team has seen over 3000 patients since it launched the service in January.
The Home First Teams are made up of physiotherapists and occupational therapists from both the community and acute trusts, linking closely with adult social care and the voluntary sector, and are based at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven. The teams are based in A&E departments, assessing older patients when they arrive to see if they can remain at home with some extra support. Many hospital stays can be safely avoided if the right support is in place at home. 250 admissions have been avoided in the first six months.
A new Advice and Guidance system helping GPs work with hospital consultants has helped prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and referrals. It offers a secure on-line service where GPs can contact secondary care doctors in several clinical specialities for advice about patient care. Feedback about the service to date has been very positive including one GP who said: “I have had numerous success stories – the quick, helpful advice I have received has really benefited my patients who have received quicker treatment as a result, more relevant tests, less unnecessary testing done in primary care and numerous referrals that I would have made have not been necessary.”
Local clinical and social care teams have also teamed up to offer free health and wellbeing MOTs within communities. The events include check-ups to measure individuals’ physical health and functional fitness and help start conversations about individual needs. The teams can also signpost to local voluntary and third sector support.
Dr David Rogers is the accountable officer for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). He said: “We have been working much more closely over the last couple of years and this is a natural progression of that work. Integration can only make it easier for our staff to work together and for patients to get the most effective care. Being recognised as a national leader in this area is a credit to our staff and communities.”
NHS England described the four new areas announced today, saying: “These systems demonstrate strong leadership teams, capable of acting collectively, and with an appetite for taking responsibility for their own performance. They have also set out ambitious plans for strengthening primary care, integrating services and collaborating between providers. Although they experience the operational and financial pressures that other systems do, our assessment is that they are more likely to improve performance against NHS Constitution standards and clinical and financial sustainability by working together as a system.”
Dr John Howarth, deputy chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust, said, “This is a significant moment for all of us who work in health and care. In all of my 35 years working in the health service in Cumbria, I’ve dreamt of creating an integrated care model, we can now seize the opportunity to collaborate across the system to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities.”
There has also been progress in the health system’s financial position. In 2015 we were £70 million over budget as a system and that was expected to more than double if we stayed as we were. Now that deficit is less £40 million and heading to balance by 2021.
The North Cumbria Health and Care System also has strong links with the North East, supporting patient flow for specialised services and our shared challenges.
There are currently 10 areas which are pilot Integrated Care Systems (ICS) or devolution areas.
Today’s announcement means there are now 14 ICS across England.