Plans that could see community health services joining forces with GPs, social care and other experts to help more patients get the care they need, closer to home, have passed an important hurdle.
Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust’s Board has noted the next steps in its search for a new way of organising NHS community services that are more joined-up and able to keep pace with the changing health needs of the area’s population.
A formal process will now take place to help select the right partners to work with the Trust in developing the plans.
The move is critical to sustaining the improvements made to the area’s community health services over the last year, and empowering nurses, doctors, and other care professionals to work together as joined-up teams in neighbourhoods across Liverpool.
It follows the Trust’s decision in January to halt plans to become a Foundation Trust and instead focus on hiring extra nurses and providing better out-of-hospital care across the city.
The steps to safeguard these improvements, by developing more joined-up NHS care, are in line with a big plan for the NHS over the rest of the decade.
The NHS Five Year Forward View was published in the autumn of last year and calls for more integrated services outside hospitals to better meet the needs of the increasing numbers of people with more than one long-term health condition.
Over the summer, the Trust has been working Liverpool CCG, South Sefton CCG, other commissioners, and the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) to explore the different options.
The final options to achieve this sea-change in out-of-hospital care have been narrowed down to:
• Horizontal integration (connecting community services together with another NHS community Trust or mental health Trust).
• Vertical integration (connecting community services together with an NHS hospital).
• NHS Multispecialty Community Provider (one of the new care models from the NHS Five Year Forward View).
The final option will need to demonstrate how it will deliver better connections between out-of-hospital services that reduce waits and improve care for more patients.
For example, the Multispecialty Community Provider option could kick-start greater collaboration between general practice, community health and social care – based on larger, multi-skilled teams that are able to bring a wider range of expert care closer to patients and families in Liverpool and Sefton.
To help choose the right NHS partner to work with services on the final option, a selection process will be held over the coming months
Once selected, work will take place from the middle of next year (2016) to create the new type of NHS organisation, which is expected to be up and running by April 2017.
In the meantime, the Trust’s commissioners will continue to plan and purchase NHS services to meet the needs of the local population and ask providers of care to ‘bid’ to run services periodically in the normal way they do now.
Carole Panteli, Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust’s Director of Nursing, said: “This is about change with a purpose: lifting barriers and liberating our clinicians to work together and with social care, GPs and other professionals to deliver joined-up care and support for patients and families, closer to home.
“Without this reform, as the recent BBC Panorama programme about NHS care in Liverpool made clear, we will see services buckling under rising demands and unmet expectations: with teams working in isolation being pulled from pillar to post, and patients and families consigned to a revolving door of hospital admissions and reliance on already overstretched acute services.”
Carole Panteli continued: “The improvements we have made in the last year have seen the recruitment of more than 150 district nurses, health visitors, therapists and other frontline clinicians. More than 92 per cent of our patients now say they would recommend the care they receive to their friends and family.
“In order to maintain these improvements and take them to the next level, we need to forge joined-up teams of health and care experts who can respond quickly to the needs of people who are most risk of being admitted to hospital unnecessarily.
“Joining forces with other out-of-hospital care experts will enable us to create a new NHS organisation of equal partners who together will be greater than the sum of their parts.”