Integrated care in Scotland needs to quicken its pace

Author: Caroline White
Integrated care in Scotland needs to quicken its pace
Efforts to join up health and social care services in Scotland are progressing well but not fast enough, concludes a joint report* by the Scottish government and the body that represents local government in Scotland, COSLA.

The report, the last in the series looking at how well integration has been moving forward since 2016 under the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014, finds that progress is not uniform across the piece.

There’s evidence of good progress in some local areas, but some local partnerships are not doing quite so well, it says.

Good practice is developing, both in terms of how Integration Joint Boards are operating and in how services are being planned and delivered to ensure better outcomes, says the report.

But the pace and effectiveness of integration need to increase, it says.

It sets out several proposals designed to ensure that progress continues. These include: effective strategic planning for improvement; clear governance and accountability arrangements; and sustained engagement with local communities.

Relationships and collaborative working between partners must improve over the next 12 months, it says. Statutory partners must try harder to understand the pressures, cultures and drivers in different parts of the system in order to promote opportunities for more open, collaborative and partnership working, as required by integration.

Similarly, relationships and partnership working with the third and independent sectors must improve, it says.

Cabinet secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Truly integrated services, focused on the needs of citizens, require our leadership and personal commitment. We [the Scottish government and COSLA] need to act together and in our individual roles to accelerate progress.”

But she added: “There are challenges we must address and we recognise that we need to adapt, compromise, and support one another to deliver integration for the people of Scotland.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, COSLA spokesperson for Health and Social Care, said: “Good progress has been made under integration to date but, as highlighted by Audit Scotland last year, there is always more we can do to achieve improved outcomes for our communities.

“COSLA welcomes the proposals, and their broad endorsement across the system sends a strong message of commitment to the health and social care integration agenda.”

*Ministerial Strategic Group for Health and Community Care - Review of Progress with Integration of Health and Social Care - Final Report. 4 February 2019.