Plans to reorganise the health service in York and create closer links with social care are underway.
City health leaders say the move will not change how patients get healthcare – but will enable health and social care services to work together better, as well as tailoring services to the needs of the area.
In York that could mean more focus on health problems faced by the local population, such as tackling the higher levels of alcohol-related illnesses recorded in the city compared to other parts of the country.
Government proposals outline plans to create 42 new bodies called integrated care systems (ICS) by April 2022. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will be disestablished.
The region’s ICS will cover North Yorkshire, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire.
York is planning to establish a new York Health and Social Care Alliance to work under the ICS.
Phil Mettam, from Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said York’s hospital trust, CCG and mental health services delivered by Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust, all cover large and different geographies.
He said the new alliance will mean health and social care decisions focus only on York’s population.
Money for health services currently goes to the CCG from HM Treasury. Under the new plans the cash will go to the ICS and be sent on to the local alliance.
It is not yet known how big the budgets will be and how they would be allocated across the large ICS region.
‘New era of collaboration’
In preparation for the change York is setting up its health and social care alliance early, with members to include hospital trusts, the CCG, the council, Nimbuscare which provides GP services, St Leonard’s Hospice, York Schools and Academies Board and primary care network representatives.
Mr Mettam said there will be a new “duty to collaborate” between the NHS, council, voluntary sector and private sector, on behalf of residents.
He said: “It creates the opportunity for us, that we’ve not had for a generation in York, to join up health and care, that is bespoke to the needs of individual communities and families.”
“From April 2022 the way that the NHS allocates its financial resources will change
“The important message for residents of the city is over the last five to ten years the NHS has not been configured in a way where it’s been able to focus on just the city. What we’re trying to create is something that is just about health and care just for that population.
“We are trying to think about what that means for us in York
“Currently the money flows into the Vale of York CCG. But as part of the Government white paper CCGs will be disestablished.”
Prof Mike Holmes, of Nimbuscare, said the pandemic has enabled teams to work more closely, including holding joint public health briefings for residents and managing the city’s vaccination programme.
He said: “It’s a new era of collaboration.”
Council leader Keith Aspden said the change is an opportunity to “ultimately focus on the city’s health priorities”.
He said: “Whilst this might not be ideal timing, the Government has pushed the button on these reforms and we are working to that timeframe. There is a real and clear opportunity here to lock in some of the positive working seen throughout the last 12 months across health and social care.”
The health and social care alliance will be discussed at a council meeting on Thursday.