Dorset joining up care for local people

20th June 2017

Dorset is at the forefront of providing better care for local people after being named as a pilot area for a new joined-up way of working across health, social care and the voluntary sector.

People with a number of long-term health conditions currently have to deal with numerous parts of the health and social care system, which is confusing for them and doesn’t always lead to the best outcomes for their health.

But in Dorset work is already underway to co-locate professionals in hubs which allow them to work closely together to support the patient in the best way. This model is already being used in Weymouth and in Christchurch, following a major refurbishment project.

The Weymouth hub is a great example of how things should work – it was recently featured as a video case study by NHS England and was shown at the national NHS Confederation Conference.

The film – called ‘Now we have help’ – tells the real story of Denis Eaton and his wife Jennifer as they struggle to navigate the health and social care system and finally get the help they need through the hub.

Now Dorset has been announced as one of eight areas nationally to introduce ‘accountable care systems’ (ACSs), which aim to integrate all parts of the health and care system including GPs, hospitals, community care and social care as well as joining up physical and mental health services.

Dr Karen Kirkham, a GP and clinical leader with Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I couldn’t and wouldn’t go back to what we had before. The teams were completely separate. Health teams completely separate from social care teams – and that meant that nobody talked to each other and nobody joined up care.”

The early ACSs have agreed to deliver fast-track improvements including taking the strain off A&E departments, making it easier to get a GP appointment and giving better access to high quality cancer and mental health services.

They will also be able to take more control of national funding to make the new ways of working a reality – with a pot of around £450 million over the next four years to support their transformation programmes.

Tim Goodson, Chief Executive of Dorset CCG and the Leader of Dorset ACS, said: “The announcement that Dorset is to be an ACS recognises that we have been working closely for some time to better integrate and transform services for local people. It is positive that the progress made in Dorset has been acknowledged - there is still much more to do to improve health and care for local people but we are on the right track.”

Following on from the announcement, Dorset will welcome NHS England’s Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh for a visit on Friday (23 June 2017). He will meet local representatives to find out about the work going on in the county.

For more information about Accountable Care Systems see NHS England’s press release.