National organisations including the Department of Health, NHS Commissioning Board and sector regulators are drawing up a joint statement of purpose to set how they will make integrated care a reality, HSJ has discovered.
The “common purpose framework” is currently being drafted and is planned to be published by May this year.
Other signatories are expected to include the Care Quality Commission, Monitor, the Local Government Association and the National Trust Development Authority.
The document will set out a common vision which will set out how they will work together to support and promote integrated care, explain why integration is necessary, what the potential barriers are and what support is needed to help local services join up.
Meanwhile it is understood that the planned major policy announcement on integrated care from health minister Norman Lamb, who has pledged to launch a new wave of integration experiments, might not take place as soon as initially thought.
Mr Lamb is expected to first issue an invitation to local areas that want to bring in a more integrated system, particularly around devising new payment structures for NHS services, before announcing which areas have been designated “pioneers”.
Although he had initially hoped the invitation could be issued in the spring this year, no date has yet been set.
The minister is understood not to have encountered any resistance to his plans, but is known to be frustrated that the system is not moving more quickly to help his ambitions become a reality.
He has also begun a series of fortnightly meetings on integrated care. These will involve bringing in innovators from around the country to help develop thinking on this policy area. The King’s Fund will also sit in on these meetings.
Downing Street is now supporting the project, HSJ has learned. Paul Bate, the prime minister’s senior policy advisor on health, is attending the fortnightly sessions,
Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund, said: “This means Norman has a powerful ally across the road - so that when he does encounter difficulties in getting his ideas taken forward quickly enough, he is able to invoke the support of the PM’s senior policy advisors to start moving things along.”
The King’s Fund also hosted a meeting between Mr Lamb and health and local government representatives from nine areas in the country working on integrated systems. These included Birmingham, Cumbria and Torbay.