A SENIOR leader from the Department of Health has visited Northumberland to see first-hand one of the very best examples of integrated care in the country.
Una O’Brien, the department’s Permanent Secretary, travelled to Wansbeck General Hospital to meet health and social care staff employed by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – one of the few trusts to provide adult social care, as well as hospital and community care.
For more than ten years, it has been working in close partnership with Northumberland County Council to develop fully joined up ways of working to ensure seamless health and social care for people in the county.
In April 2011, along with the transfer of more than 1,000 community services staff from the former NHS primary care trust, more than 500 council-funded social care staff also transferred to Northumbria Healthcare – establishing one of the most unique arrangements for joined-up, integrated health and social care in England.
During her visit, Ms O’Brien met front-line health and social care teams who work together to look after frail elderly patients from the moment they are admitted to hospital and make sure they have the right care and support to return home and live independently.
She said afterwards: “It was great to see the NHS and local authority working in partnership in the interests of patients.
“It has been a pleasure to meet all of the various health and social care staff at Wansbeck General Hospital who are working in this way.”
Teams of hospital doctors, community nurses and social care workers in Northumberland work in partnership to deliver a truly seamless service for patients, with Northumbria Healthcare providing all hospital, community and adult social care.
Daljit Lally, director of community services at Northumbria Healthcare and director of adult services and housing at the county council, said: “We have a very strong relationship between the NHS and the local authority in Northumberland, which is built on solid foundations of trust and an ethos that firmly puts our patients’ well-being at the centre of all care decisions.
“We are delighted that Ms O’Brien requested a visit to Northumberland to see how our integrated services work.
“Our front-line health and social care staff do a truly remarkable job working as part of fully integrated multi-disciplinary teams to ensure patients have the exact support and help they need both when they are in hospital and at home.”