Discussions have begun with health staff employed by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTH) and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) on the integration of hospital and community services across the Morecambe Bay area at a series of staff engagement events.
Conversations have been held with NHS colleagues from across north Lancashire, with leaders from both health Trusts.
The benefits are envisaged as:
• Reducing duplication (such as having to tell your health story to several different people)
• A more integrated – or `joined-up’ service enabling–community teams to keep people in their own homes safely and keeping their independence for longer and only going into hospital when specialist care is needed
• Hospital and community teams will work together to enable people to be admitted to hospital speedily when it’s needed.
• Experiencing a consistent service wherever you live in Morecambe Bay
Staff providing community services in south Cumbria have already transferred their employment to UHMBT and the discussions signal the intention to create an integrated hospital and community service across Morecambe Bay by the end of the summer.
A key element of Better Care Together has been the creation of 11 Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) across the Morecambe Bay area. The ICCs provide an opportunity for the community services to play a crucial role in ensuring that the patient experiences seamless care in GP Practices, their own home and if they have to go to hospital.
No decisions have yet been made and the Boards of both organisations will be asked to give final approval of the plans in the summer.
BTH Chief Executive Wendy Swift said: “In north Lancashire we have been working closely with our Bay Health and Care Partners to develop a vision of how healthcare in Morecambe Bay will look like in the future.
“As a health and care system, we want to work in a much more integrated and ‘joined up’ way to improve patient care and experience. This has always been the ambition of our Better Care Together strategy.
“It therefore makes sense to work in a more integrated way across hospital and community care, reducing duplication and allowing the services to offer more consistent care across the whole of Morecambe Bay.
“At present there are different organisations with different financial, governance and management arrangements, which makes the provision of consistent care more complicated than it needs to be.”
UHMBT Chief Executive Aaron Cummins said: “This is another step towards our ambition of providing integrated services across the Morecambe Bay area – both between hospital and community – and within the community provision across our 365,000 population.
“We will continue talking to our colleagues working within the Bay Health and Care Partners to discuss this further and want to include staff, unions and governors at all times during this process – and ensure they have the opportunity to influence how this happens.
“It is our intention to transfer the staff this year, but recognise there is much work to complete before then, and the work will continue once the staff have transferred in bringing the services together across the area.”