Social care leaders back project to improve data-sharing with health

The drive to improve information-sharing between adult social care and health services is gathering pace after it emerged that detailed proposals will soon be put forward for a steering group to look at linking the agencies’ electronic records.

The plans will be examined this month at the national board meeting of Connecting for Health, the body responsible for information technology reform in the NHS, as agencies look to build on the single assessment process for older people.

A Department of Health spokesperson said a sub-group of the Care Record Development Board, Connecting for Health’s advisory body, had been set up to “examine the ethical and practical issues around sharing health and social care information”.

“Particular work is being done on the single assessment process [but] at the moment no firm proposals have been accepted,” she added.

This sub-group is jointly chaired by Kathryn Hudson, the national director for social care, and David Johnstone, chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services’ standards and performance management committee.

Johnstone said the idea of the steering group had been “favourably received” at the previous Connecting for Health board meeting but that it had asked for more details.

The forthcoming white paper on out-of-hospital care is likely to signal a move towards single assessment for all adults, and Johnstone said a linked electronic record-keeping system would bring several benefits.

“We would only have to record information once and it would follow the individual through whatever their care treatment is,” he said. “The other big plus is that people would be able to ensure that their record is accurate and up to date.”

The ADSS has also backed the probable inclusion in the white paper of plans to create more joint targets with health.

John Dixon, co-chair of its disabilities committee, said social services were “being measured against targets that were set many years ago”.

Meanwhile, care services minister Liam Byrne this week said the government would soon announce £60m for pilots aimed at developing new ways to support vulnerable older people.

He also revealed that pilots for individual budgets in social care would focus on six areas, including Supporting People funding, council-provided social care services for adults, and the Independent Living Fund. 


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