Health and social care services need to be changed to make them more focused on the needs of individuals and to reduce fragmentation, a Labour Party policy commission has recommended.
The Independent Commission on Whole-Person Care’s report said that changes in how services are commissioned could result in better coordinated care that is focused on the holistic needs of individuals.
The commission, chaired by John Oldham, was set up last year to provide the party with a blueprint for achieving shadow health secretary Andy Burnham’s vision of fully integrated health and social care.
The report that health and social care budgets should be used collectively to achieve outcomes defined by individuals rather than institutions and central government.
In particular it proposed that alliances of multiple providers should be commissioned under a single contract where individual services only gain if the whole alliance delivers on the commissioned outcomes.
It also suggested appointing lead providers who are required to direct all care services for specific groups of people – including those within particular geographical areas or people with specific health conditions.
These approaches also need to be underpinned by local flexibility, added the commission’s report, as “what makes sense in inner-city Birmingham is not likely to make sense in Cornwall”.
The commission also called for the development of websites and apps that help family and friends to support individuals even when far apart, and for workforce bodies such as the Health and Care Professions Council to increase their emphasis on multidisciplinary practice.
It also said health and care records should be shared between agencies by default, although individuals should retain the ability to opt out of this.
Other recommendations include:
- changing planning and building rules so that they do not prevent the adaptation of homes for the elderly or disabled;
- allowing local health and social care services to create single shared budgets if they want to;
- offering all older people preventative checks designed to identify their needs and risks they may face;
- making improved assessments of carers a local priority
The report said its recommendations would foster more person-centred health and care services without requiring “expensive and distracting” structural reorganisations of public services.
The commission’s recommendations will inform Labour’s Health and Care Policy Commission, which is tasked with developing the party’s policies for the next general election.