The Highland Council and the NHS Highland Board have unanimously agreed to progress far-reaching plans to integrate health and social care services in the Highlands.
Meeting jointly at Inverness today (Thursday), they agreed to develop a new model for integrated service delivery, which will further improve front line services, and help achieve better outcomes for the users of services.
It was agreed that the single lead agency for the delivery of adult community care services should be NHS Highland, and that the single lead agency for the provision of children’s services should be The Highland Council.
A detailed plan will come back for decision in May, next year, with a view to implementation of the new arrangements in April 2012.
The proposals will:
- reduce bureaucracy;
- ensure front-line services are efficient and cost effective by removing duplication and gaps;
- make sense to the public and to service users, by having a single, lead organisation responsible for the management and organisation of services; and
- provide a clear framework for improved leadership and enhanced public accountability.
These changes are significant because they:
- involve far reaching changes in organisational and management arrangements for the two largest employers in the Highland area.
- provide a means of achieving what politicians, professionals, clinicians and the public have been seeking for many years, in both children’s and adult services – reduced bureaucracy and a real joined up approach to service delivery.
- represent the most advanced plans in Scotland to achieve these aims.
- demonstrate the significant trust and effective working relationships that have been developed by care and health professionals across Highland Council and NHS Highland.
- will deliver real improvements in services and outcomes for the users of health and social care services in the Highlands.
Garry Coutts, Chairman of NHS Highland, said: “I am really excited that we have the unanimous agreement from both organisations to progress these far-reaching proposals which will bring health and social care closer together.
“The Council provides the universal service for children in schools, and is best placed to manage children’s services. The Health Service is the universal service for adults, and the first point of contact when people are ill or have other difficulties. Accordingly, it makes sense that community care services are managed by NHS Highland. If we manage to pull this off, we will be doing a great service to the people of the Highlands and at the same time provide a model of integrated service delivery in Scotland.”
Ian Gibson, Vice-Chairman of NHS Highland, said: “I am totally committed to the direction of travel. At all times we must keep our eye on the needs of the people of Highlands and we must meet the challenge of cultural change to achieve this.”
Councillor Michael Foxley, Leader of the Council’s Administration, said: “What we are proposing is a radical change in the way we deliver two of the most important public services in the Highlands. It is a credit to the effective relationships between our two organisations that we are now in a position to get down to the detailed planning required to make this work for the benefit of Highland communities. We will engage with all that staff affected to make sure they are kept informed and involved. We want to improve and extend our local teams to provide better services.”
Councillor John Finnie, Leader of the Council Opposition, supported the move to integrate health and social care services. He said: “The Council and NHS are the two organisations that have the biggest impact on the public and it is essential that the customer is put first in the changes we make.”
Minister for Public Health Shona Robison said: “We are pleased that this ambitious proposal by Highland Council and NHS Highland has taken another step forward.
“This builds on a great deal of joint work that's already been done in both children's and older people's care.
"We are very interested in seeing what proposals are developed and what changes are made in Highland as a result of this project - and obviously how people's care will improve. The Scottish Government has supported Highland in their development of this model over the last 18 months and we look forward to other partnerships following suit."