The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the integration of care in the community in many areas. The transformative potential of organisations working together at a neighbourhood level to meet local needs has never been clearer.
Before the crisis hit, the Community Network initiated the Neighbourhood Integration Project to capture the successes and share the learning from areas where local service integration was already well underway. This was against the backdrop of the long term plan commitment to genuinely integrated community-based teams, and the introduction of primary care networks to deliver more proactive and co-ordinated care for communities of around 30-50,000 people.
Focusing on this 'neighbourhood' level, the project has drawn together case studies on how more joined up care has been delivered in four localities. It has also produced three briefings looking at how partnerships have resolved common operational challenges that so often hold back the integration agenda – around workforce, governance and shared working practices.
These case studies were written before the pandemic, with all the enormous changes that has brought about, not least the move to digital first ways of working. However, as the NHS faces unprecedented pressures not just to recover but redesign how services are delivered, we hope they are still a timely way of sharing the practical strategies health and care organisations have already used to deliver more integrated neighbourhood level care.
This Community Network project is a collaboration between NHS Providers, the NHS Confederation, the National Association of Primary Care, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Association of Ambulance Chief Executives. It has been funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement.