By Alice Hopkinson, Principal Consultant, PPL
This summer I attended the inaugural LGC and HSJ Integration Summit on behalf of the North West London (NWL) Whole Systems Integrated Care (WSIC) programme. The NWL WSIC programme is a collaboration of eight CCGs and eight local authorities who, together with provider and lay partners from across NWL, are working to implement new models of person-centred, joined-up care. NWL is a national integration Pioneer.
The two-day Integration Summit brought system leaders together to explore how the different members of Health and Wellbeing boards (HWBs) can work effectively together to achieve integrated care.
The World Café session I was part of was hosted by integration pioneers and those at the forefront of the Better Care Fund (BCF), and consisted of 15-minute rotations between different tables. Each table covered a specific topic relating to the BCF, and participants came from a range of organisations, covering CCGs, Local Authorities, regulatory bodies and Healthwatch representatives from across the country. The discussion at my table considered how to ensure partnerships are embedded throughout the planning and delivery of the BCF.
Some interesting debates ensued, using NWL as an example of one way in which this might be achieved. Specifically, I discussed our approach to getting lay partners involved and their role in facilitating the building of relationships between other programme partners. Some key points that were raised from participants included the importance of creating trust and ensuring equal partnership (although there were mixed views around the table on this!), and different ways of using the press and social media to engage people in integrated care. Politicians (both national and local) were identified as key partners, and participants focused on how their role might be leveraged to support the development of new relationships and ways of working.
However, what was particularly interesting to me was the lack of new ideas and content relating to this subject matter – especially when, for me, building relationships is an essential ingredient in being able to make integrated care a success. The BCF is an excellent opportunity to tackle this; it has already served to reveal that cracks in relationships lead to the weakening of plans for integrated care, therefore impacting local areas’ ability to deliver. I think there is a real need to put significant effort into finding ways to resolve any differences that are barriers to genuine partnerships. This can be done by both identifying the root cause(s) and clearly articulating common goals which can be shared between partners.
We need to invest more energy in taking this seriously. There are plenty of ‘wicked issues’ to tackle around integrating care, but without the foundation of strong and embedded partnerships, the BCF is building on sand.