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Bill out to promote joined-up public sector working

29 May 2013

A new bill designed to ensure that the Scottish health and social care systems work together effectively to improve the provision of care in the community has been published.

The Scottish Government's Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill will require local authorities and health boards to prepare "integration plans" setting out how they will delegate functions so that they are carried out by a single body.

Ministers believe that while a number of initiatives have improved the provision of health and social care services, "there is widespread recognition across Scotland that reform needs to go further. Separate – and sometimes disjointed – systems of health and social care can no longer adequately meet the needs and expectations of increasing numbers of people who are living into older age, often with multiple, complex, long-term conditions, and who need joined-up, integrated services". So says the policy memorandum published with the bill.

The aim of integration is to achieve that services should be planned and delivered seamlessly from the perspective of the patient, service user or carer, and that systems for managing services should actively support that goal.

One particular objective is to reduce the number of older people kept in hospital longer than is needed and increase the amount of care that can be provided at home.

The bill will promote initiatives such as "Hospital at Home", initially piloted by North Lanarkshire Partnership and now being adapted for use across Scotland, which has enabled 80% of patients to stay in their home rather than being admitted to hospital; and a groundbreaking partnership agreement for the Highland area signed in March 2012 to establish a lead agency model to manage adult health and social care services through a single budget and management system, which involved 1,400 council staff and £89m transferring to NHS Highland, and 200 NHS staff and £8m moving to the council.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “The publication of this bill is a major step forward in public service reform, and integrating NHS and local authority budgets will help to reduce these delays.

“Bringing health and social care together in this way improves care for people in communities, helping to anticipate their needs and reaching them before they need to be admitted to hospital or institutional care."

Click here to access the bill.

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