Socitm advocates sharing in care integration

Policy director calls for support for councils to look at sharing solution for the integration of health and social care

Public sector IT association Socitm has identified the integration of health and social care as a prime area in which councils should be sharing the existing solutions – with a suggestion that there should be support from central government to do so.

Martin FergusonMartin Ferguson, the organisation’s policy and research director, highlighted the example of the Leeds Care Record, which has been in place since 2013 and is now used by all the city’s GPs along with healthcare agencies and the city council. While there has been an element to make this available as the basis for other authorities’ solutions through the Ripple Foundation it has made little headway so far.

Ferguson said this is largely down to the limited resources to support sharing, and that it is the type of effort for which there should be support from the centre.

“In the area of health and social care integration there is a very real opportunity to invest in that sharing,” he said. “We’ve had the pioneer projects and a number of good initiatives.

“But it’s hard work. Leeds has an integrated digital care record that works, but it’s how can we standardise that, make it available and go out and talk to people.”

Speaking with UKAuthority at Socitm’s annual conference, he also identified cyber security as an area in which councils can do more to share their approaches with the right kind of support. He pointed to the achievements of warning, advice and reporting points (WARPs) and said: “The idea is to build the expertise at a sub-regional level around the country to support cyber security in a coherent way.”

Chinks of light

He emphasised that the financial pressures on local government are making it difficult to find the resources to support this kind of sharing, and that while there have been some recent improvements in support from the centre – he pointed to the Government Digital Service’s efforts to make its Verify and Notify platforms available to councils – they are just “chinks of light”.

“It’s small steps and there is still no real substance in terms of funding and support,” he said.

“We talk about simplify, standardise and share. We’ve had a lot of projects to simplify and standardise, but never had the resources to put into sharing.”

Socitm is trying to make a contribution through its research work, which now has four priority areas: digital leadership, health and wellbeing, workforce diversity and cyber security.

Ferguson said this will also reflect the importance of ‘place’, emphasising the needs to achieve positive outcomes in the places under the remit of local authorities.