New Care Services Minister promises to ‘push integration’

 The new Care Services Minister, Norman Lamb, has said that developing integrated care should be given “just as much importance as any other big NHS issue”.

Speaking to the King’s Fund, the Liberal Democrat minister highlighted the dangers of “disjointed care” and the role of the new Health and Wellbeing Boards in co-ordinating local health and social care.

Lamb also said he was “totally committed” to the Dilnot proposal of capping the costs of social care to the patient – though he added that finding the necessary funds would be “incredibly difficult”.

Using examples from the care of young disabled people, elderly people and people with mental health disorders, he argued that “all parts of the system have to work together”.

Funding was available to support care integration, he said, including £300m being transferred from the NHS to local authorities for that specific purpose.

Lamb outlined four priorities for developing integrated care: to define its goal more clearly; to build on existing projects in care integration; to measure patients’ experience of it; and to develop innovative payment systems for it.

He also emphasised the role of personal health and care budgets in building patient-centred systems of integrated care.

The Health and Wellbeing Boards will be crucial in developing the new care model, he said – and their “real work” would be on the ground, intervening in local health and social care.

Lamb concluded: “I will push integration as hard as I can.”