The intention is for Kent and Medway to become an integrated care system with:
- GP practices working together in networks – called ‘primary care networks’
- four new ‘integrated care partnerships’ across Kent and Medway, drawing together all the NHS organisations in a given area and working more closely with health improvement services and social care
- a single commissioning organisation for Kent and Medway, led by local doctors, to take a ‘bird’s eye view’ of health priorities for local people and look at where shared challenges, such as cancer and mental health, should be tackled together.
Glenn Douglas, chief executive of the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and accountable officer of the eight local Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “We want people to be able to live their best life, and get great treatment, care and support when they need it.
“Until people need health and care services, most have no idea how many organisations there are or how complicated it can be to find the person you need to talk to. Sometimes services duplicate one another. Sometimes there are gaps. That is not good for patients or carers, it is frustrating for staff, and it is not the best use of NHS funds.
“Over the last three years we have made real progress by working across the NHS, social care and public health as the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.
“Now we want to change some things about the way we organise ourselves. We believe this will unlock improvements in care for patients and help us meet rising demand.”
Over coming weeks, every clinical commissioning group in Kent and Medway will be discussing the plan at their governing body meetings and with their member GP practices.
As an integrated care system, Kent and Medway will have:
- about 42 primary care networks from 1 July 2019 each covering 30,000 to 50,000 people. They will have their own funding so they can employ new staff (such as physiotherapists with enhanced skills, who patients can refer themselves to without needing to see a GP first) and provide some services for everyone in their area
- four integrated care partnerships from April 2020, consisting of hospital, community, mental health, and commissioning organisations and primary care networks. These will be based on how patients currently use hospital services, one each for: east Kent; Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley; Medway and Swale; and west Kent. While each organisation within an ICP will hold a budget, they will agree together how funding is spent locally. They will free up staff to work in teams based on skills and patient needs, regardless of which NHS organisation employs them
- one strategic commissioner for the NHS, which may be formed by the eight existing clinical commissioning groups merging or working as one – the GPs who comprise the CCG membership will decide.
In addition to the above, the Kent and Medway integrated care system to include, by April 2021:
- a partnership board, representing commissioners and providers from across health and care organisations, as well as local government, the voluntary and community sector and other stakeholders
- patient and public representatives ensuring patients have a voice within the new arrangements
- a clinical and professional board to scrutinise the evidence for change and advise on how best to improve the quality of care
- partnership arrangements with elected members of local authorities through Health and Wellbeing Boards and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
This is in line with national policy set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.
For people living in Kent and Medway it will mean:
- more support to stay fit and well before things become a problem – including active reminders sent direct to you, and clinical initiatives to, for instance, identify people at higher risk of a stroke
- better access to the care you need, when you need it, in a way that suits you – whether that’s in the evenings or at weekends, over the phone, by video link or a standard face-to-face appointment, with a physio, nurse, clinical pharmacist, GP, or support from a non-medical service
- more focus on your physical AND mental health and wellbeing, recognising that people have different personal aims and needs – we’ll respond to what matters to you, not the condition or disease that you may have
- more care out of hospital, with staff working together as a single team to plan and support people with complex health and care needs stay as well as possible and get the care they need when they need it
- better identification of the issues that need tackling and a real focus on quality services, wherever they are provided.
For staff it will mean:
- higher job satisfaction as working in teams is less isolated and more rewarding
- better work/life balance with each professional able to focus on what they do best
- greater resilience and less risk of burnout
- greater influence on how resources are used to best effect for patients.
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