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Audit Scotland report: Health and social care integration: update on progress

Cover of report white background with yellow purple and blue string intertwined

Audit Scotland have recently a new report on the progress and status of Health and social care integration. Their own summary states: ‘While some improvements have been made to the delivery of health and social care services, Integration Authorities, councils and NHS boards need to show a stronger commitment to collaborative working to achieve the real long term benefits of an integrated system.’

The report has four key messages:

1.    Integration authorities have started to introduce more collaborative ways of delivering services but there is much more to be done.

2.    Financial planning is not integrated, long term or focused on providing the best outcomes for people who need support. This is a fundamental issue which will limit the ability of Integration Authorities to improve the health and social care system. Financial pressures are making it difficult for Integration Authorities to achieve meaningful change.

3.    Strategic planning needs to improve, and key barriers that must be overcome include: a lack of collaborative leadership and strategic capacity; a high turnover in leadership teams; disagreement over governance arrangements; and an inability or unwillingness to safely share data with staff and the public.

4.    Significant changes are still required. Change cannot happen without meaningful engagement with staff, communities and politicians. At both a national and local level, all partners need to work together to be more honest and open about the changes that are needed to sustain health and care services in Scotland.

and makes a number of recommendations over six themes:

1.    Commitment to collaborative leadership and building relationships

2.    Effective strategic planning for improvement

3.    Integrated finances and financial planning

4.    Agreed governance and accountability arrangements

5.    Ability and willingness to share information

6.    Meaningful and sustained engagement

It is this last recommendation on meaningful and sustained engagement that is especially relevant to SDSS members, as it states that ‘Integration Authorities, councils and NHS boards should work together to continue to improve the way that local communities are involved in planning and implementing any changes to how health and care services are accessed and delivered.’.

Another reminder that authorities should fully engage with people at every level and stage in their approaches to health and social care delivery. You can view the full report and other documents here.