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Four more areas have been given more control to improve their local services as NHS England and NHS Improvement seek to improve joined up NHS and social care work across the UK.
Gloucestershire, West Yorkshire and Harrogate, Suffolk and North East Essex and North Cumbria, collectively covering four and a half million people, have joined the ten areas already part of the integrated care development programme, which have seen improved A&E performance, cancer treatment times and waits for operations.
At the first meeting of NHS England and NHS Improvement boards sitting ‘in common’, the four new systems will be expected to work beyond their own organisational boundaries to improve services for their communities, join up services for people with multiple and long-term conditions, and help people stay as healthy as possible. With people now iving longer and one in three patients admitted to hospital as an emergency having five or more health conditions, integrated care system create a better health environment for patients and those treating them.
These systems will benefit from additional central funding to support the improvements they are making to services, as well as greater freedom and flexibility to make decisions over how the health system in their area operates.
Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: “We have seen real progress in how NHS organisations have been collaborating with each other and with local government and local partners since integrated care systems were first introduced a year ago.
“Integrated care systems will be vital in tackling the factors that affect the long-term sustainability of patient services – many of which cross organisational boundaries. I am delighted we are rolling out these systems to four more areas of the country. They all demonstrate strong leadership teams, capable of acting collectively, and with an appetite for taking responsibility for their own performance for the benefit of the communities they serve.”