The King’s Fund responds to the government’s health and care integration White Paper

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Commenting on the government’s health and care integration White Paper, Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said:

‘More and more people are living with multiple health conditions and require the support of many different services, so the ambition to better integrate and co-ordinate those services is welcome. Similarly, we support the recognition that the integration of services best happens at the local level.

‘Local leaders need flexibility to determine their priorities and how they best integrate the health and care service in their area. However, this plan sets out a greater degree of national oversight of local governance and accountability than seen up until now and there will be nationally set priorities that must be met. Balancing national ambitions and local flexibility has long been a challenge in health and social care and is likely to remain so.

‘The plan also makes it clear that key building blocks of this approach need significant further work over 2022. This makes it hard to see how the ideas will come to fruition by the planned deadline of April 2023 alongside all the other challenges the health and care sector is facing.

‘More significantly, the bringing together of the NHS and social care will not deal with fundamental challenges such as the workforce crisis gripping both sectors. Local leaders will only be able to work with the staff and budgets they already have.’

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.