Councils and the NHS should be sharing data more effectively to better predict which residents are most likely to need “intensive social care”, according to health think-tank the Nuffield Trust.

Trust researchers built on existing NHS models for predicting those likely to need hospital care to create a tool for using NHS and council data to do the same for social care.

Now they are calling for better data linking between councils and the NHS and a round of pilots to test out new prediction models.

Martin Bardsley, head of research at the trust, said better linking of information about patients offered real potential to improve the quality of care patients received and make better use of preventative services.

“The prize is not only greater independence for older people, but also significant potential cost savings for health and social care budgets – critical as UK public services enter a period of constrained funding,” he said.

“At a time when personalisation of care and individual budgets are seen as important, the need to collect and analyse this sort of information is ever more pressing.”

He added: “This work also highlights the need to improve the way we link information from health and social services in order to understand better peoples pathways through care.”

Among the recommendations for future work Dr Bardsley and his team recommend are:

  • Establishing clearer national protocols for the sharing of data between the NHS and councils; and
  • Improving the way social care data is recorded and coded so that more meaningful comparisons between health and social care data can be made.