Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘We agree with the NAO that place based planning and health and social care integration are the right ambitions for the NHS and local government to pursue.
‘If these ambitions are to be realised, barriers to integration such as misaligned financial incentives and different planning cycles must be removed. Sufficient time must be allowed to build the relationships on which partnership working depends, and to deliver measurable improvements in care.
‘These and other lessons from the NAO’s analysis need to inform work to develop new care models and sustainability and transformation plans (STPs). Failure to do so will result in well-intentioned policy initiatives falling well short of their objectives.
‘At a time when greater integration of health and social care is needed more than ever, the Department of Health, the Department for Communities and Local Government, NHS England and other national bodies should respond with urgency to address the shortcomings identified by the NAO. Our forthcoming analysis of the 44 STPs in England will outline the other changes required, including earmarked funding to support new care models and to invest in the out of hospital services that hold out most hope of moderating demand for hospital care. The ambitious proposals included in STPs now need to be worked up into credible plans to deliver on the high expectations associated with them.’