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LGC View: Interaction required to make integration a reality

Nick Golding
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True reform require full co-operation between all health and wellbeing board members

By bringing together the different organisations involved in the local health and social care economy, health and wellbeing boards should be the linchpin that helps to create a genuinely integrated care system. They also have the potential to inject a much-needed element of democratic accountability into the NHS.

However, there is little conclusive evidence that a large number of boards have truly grappled with the most significant issues facing each area. New attitudes are required to ensure organisational rivalries and interests are set aside to ensure care is redesigned to serve the interests of patients, service users and taxpayers.

The boards are composed of the representatives of many longstanding organisations, each with their cultures and sectional interests. It can be hard for nascent organisations to overcome inertia.

LGC and its sister title Health Service Journal launched our Integration Summit to provide a forum in which those represented on the boards could meet their counterparts to frankly discuss how to they can succeed.

Different mindsets were apparent. NHS commissioners closed themselves off, avoiding interaction, while healthwatch and the voluntary sector got out the most to meet other groups. Councillors tended to wait for other groups to visit them rather than engage proactively.

While one should not leap to conclusions based on the characteristics of people attending one event, many delegates said our groups behaved in a manner similar to those in their area.

Only with full interaction and co-operation between all the boards’ members can the change occur to make them succeed.

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