STRUCTURE: GPs in part of the South West are exploring opportunities for integrated commissioning with their local council.

Officials from North Somerset Council have been talking to members of North Somerset CCG about potential joint commissioning of health and social care in an arrangement designed to support plans for the creation of an integrated care organisation in the area.

Plans for an ICO delivering services currently provided by Weston Area Health Trust, North Somerset Community Partnership and the council’s social services department are in development, with the ambition of creating a new organisation by April 2013.

In a report to the council earlier this month, its chief executive Graham Turner told councillors that integration was the only way of ensuring locally based services for the area.

“Not working closely with the emerging North Somerset CCG, Weston Hospital and the community partnership would lead to fragmented services, fail to serve local people and lead to NHS based solutions governed from outside North Somerset, which might not best serve the interests of local people,” he said.

He said officers had been looking at models in Herefordshire and Torbay but the North Somerset plans would be “breaking some new ground” by integrating children’s services.

Mr Turner also revealed talks were taking place between the NHS South of England strategic health authority cluster, the Department of Health and “other government departments” to look at potential funding arrangements.

HSJ understands the plans for integration have the support of NHS South of England chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers, although the financial arrangements are yet to be worked out.

Mr Turner and Weston chief executive Peter Colclough have previously told HSJ they are seeking an alternative to payment by results to achieve “maximum integration”.