Plans to improve health and social care are welcomed in Oxfordshire

Proposals for a new ‘integrated care system’ for Oxfordshire designed to improve health and social care services were welcomed by the county council’s Cabinet today (Tuesday 15 October).

The new joined-up health and care system will also cover Buckinghamshire and Berkshire West. A draft of the five-year plan for an integrated care system has been published and is due to be submitted to NHS England in November.

In the draft plan, the NHS and local authorities in the three areas have committed to planning health and care services around individual needs. Health and care organisations will work collectively to help people enjoy better health by focusing on preventing illness and improving care for those who need it.

The principle of ‘local first’ has been established, with community-run services a vital part of the integrated care system. GP practices will become part of ‘primary care networks’ that serve communities of around 30-50,000 people. By working together, GP practices will offer access to a wide range of local services, such as NHS and social services, as well as services provided by voluntary groups.

These care networks will also be part of larger ‘integrated care partnerships’ – one for each of the three county areas, including Oxfordshire. The partnerships will join up local hospital and mental health services with, council and community services.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council and chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“We are all focused on better health and wellbeing outcomes for residents which means integrating our health and care systems to provide a seamless system.

“Developing an integrated care system will enable us to be more effective and efficient. By joining up services we can offer better individual support to people. But it does not change that fact that the NHS and local authorities face real funding challenges.”

While people living in Oxfordshire are generally healthier than other parts of the country, some areas including Oxford and Banbury have substantial areas of deprivation. These area feature homelessness, childhood obesity, diabetes and high levels of smoking among people with anxiety and depression.

The population in Oxfordshire is also aging, with the number of over 85s likely to double by 2033 [check date] which will put additional pressure on health and care services that are already stretched.

The combination of existing need and the predicted growth in population means it will be ever-more important to avoid duplicated effort and waste resources wasted. The partners in the integrated care system have also committed to reducing the pressure on staff to ensure their wellbeing and enable them to do the best possible job for patients.

To find out more about the proposals, go here.