• Care Quality Commission publishes review of older people’s care across Cumbria
  • Services “inconsistent” across the footprint with “significant work” needed to ensure consistent care
  • Review is one of 20 requested by Jeremy Hunt into care for older people with long term conditions

Health services for older people in Cumbria are inconsistent and services are in the “very early” stages of integration, the Care Quality Commission has said.

Inspectors carried out a review across the county into how hospitals, community health services, general practice, care homes and homecare agencies provide care for over 65s.

The regulator found older people across the county had “inconsistent experiences” of health and social care, and “significant work” was needed to improve consistency.

Its recommendations for the region included:

  • a “coherent” health and social care workforce strategy;
  • an implementation plan for the county-wide health and wellbeing strategy with joint outcomes, ICT support and financial protocols;
  • a system-wide commissioning arrangement, including market shaping; and
  • extending GP out of hours services.

The report is one of 20 targeted reviews of local authority areas requested by Jeremy Hunt into how care for older patients with long term conditions was being delivered.

Chief inspector of primary care Professor Steve Field said improvement work in Cumbria was at an early stage, with pockets of progress across the footprint.

Professor Filed said “significant work” was needed to ensure people across the county receive consistent care.

He added: “It is clear that across Cumbria, system leaders are keen to build relationships and improve how they worked together. However, this work is at an early stage and significant effort is needed to maintain its momentum.

“While it is encouraging to see plans being developed and it is clear that health and social care professionals have real desire to join up services, the system is very early in its journey towards integration.”

The report said the region had not removed key barriers to improving care, including:

  • ensuring there was a suitably skilled health and care workforce;
  • improving collaboration with independent, voluntary and community sector service providers; and
  • integrating ICT systems.

The region is split into two sustainability and transformation partnerships: West, North and East Cumbria; and Lancashire and South Cumbria.

WNE Cumbria was one of three success regime regions trying to turn around troubled health economies, which has led to significant hospital reconfiguration plans.

Lancashire and South Cumbria is in the process of forming an “accountable care organisation” as part of the new care models vanguard programme.

Inspectors found people waiting to be discharged from hospital faced long delays due to hold ups in the assessment process, homecare packages not being available and a shortage of suitable care home placements.

Stewart Young, chair of the Cumbria Health and Wellbeing Board and leader of Cumbria County Council said: ”We always knew that this report would highlight a number of area’s that require more focus and effort as that’s a key part of the learning process.

”Having received the report which identifies these areas for improvements, it is now incumbent upon us to put plans in pace to ensure that these are addressed in a robust manner.”