Social work and end-of-life care

Social work is important in end-of-life care

NHS competition regulator Monitor inadequately tries to show that competition and coordination go together

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140830 IntegrationCoordinating NHS and social services has been a policy and practice for decades, arising because if you coordinate everything into one organisation, you get an oversized blob. In any case, social services and the NHS have to be separated in some way, because the government would otherwise be forced by the political obligation to  provide health care to extend that to free social services, and they’re never going to do that. (You ask: why? Partly because of the cost but mainly because social care helps people with the problems of everyday living, not something exceptional and definable like an illness, and government doesn’t want to pay for what people would normally do for themselves, like getting up, getting bathed and getting fed).

Monitor, the NHS regulator which is supposed to ensure that competition works, is issuing a lot of guidance about coordination. The political reason for this is that they need to show that the competitive market that they promote does not prevent coordination. To do this, they have latched onto the idea of personalisation, or person-centred services: the idea is that services slot together around people’s needs, so they naturally coordinate.

So in its requirements of providers (a sort of contract that NHS providers are supposed to adhere to), it has an integrated care condition:

The Integrated Care Condition states that NHS provider licence holders should not do anything that could reasonably be regarded as detrimental to enabling integrated care. It also includes a patient interest test which means that the obligations only apply to the extent that they are in the interests of people who use healthcare services.

The problem is that the aim of removing barriers to coordination does not actively make it possible, and what NHS providers do is not the major barrier – lack of resources and options in service provision is. But the requirement not to do anything to the detriment of coordination provides a potential protest and advocacy point for people who want to change something that an NHS provider is doing.

Link to the Monitor Guidance, which also has lots of useful links to other documents on integration.

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Written by Malcolm Payne

2 September 2014 at 1:26 pm

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