One system, one team, one you

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Whether you are a patient, member of the public or a member of staff working in health and social care in Northumberland, we appreciate you may have questions about how to get involved in this work and what these new models of integrated care may look like.  We have drafted some of our most frequent FAQs on this page but if you have a question please use the button below.

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What is integrated care?

Integrated care means combining different parts of the health and social care system so that they work seamlessly together to provide a good experience for patients.  We know this doesn’t always happen, mainly due to barriers such as different IT systems and organisational processes which result in poor communication and a lack of up-to-date information available for frontline teams delivering care.

What is an integrated primary and acute care system?

You may have heard the terms integrated ‘primary and acute care system’ or ‘PACS’ being used to describe what we are doing to create new models of care in Northumberland. In simple terms this means that we want to join up all the different parts of health and care services across Northumberland so that they are co-ordinated around individual patient need in future, and so that they work seamlessly together.   To make this vision a success, we will need to make sure staff can work together in a unified way and with access to an integrated patient record which shares key information.

Why do we need to improve integration of care?

Patients, the public and our staff consistently tell us where we can do better and even though we have excellent service across Northumberland, we know we can do better.  We want to build on successful work over many years and break down the organisational barriers which have historically prevented true integration of services.  We know this will bring huge benefits for patients and also result in a more efficient and well run health and care system.

What will the benefits be for patients?

This work will bring many benefits for patients, including:

  • better access to care seven days a week – both for serious emergencies and for primary care services such as extended access to GP appointments
  • better use of technology to empower people to take control of their own health and wellbeing, live independently at home and stay healthy
  • care delivered by an aligned, integrated  workforce, operating as one team, in one system with joined-up IT systems and processes
  • one unified patient record, reducing the need for patients to repeat ‘their story’ to different health professionals and different parts of ‘the system’

What is an accountable care organisation?

The collective ambition is to create a single ‘accountable care organisation’ for the whole of Northumberland.  This would bring together health and social care partners and, for the first time, combine general practice and primary care with hospital, community, adult social care, as well as mental health services, without the organisational boundaries which have historically prevented real transformation in care.

The proposed development of an accountable care organisation for Northumberland  will be one of the first of its kind in the NHS and would take joint accountability for the whole health and care needs of the population.

What are the timings to create an accountable care organisation in Northumberland?

We are seeking to move at pace in terms of developing an accountable care organisation but we are aware that changes to the current legislative framework will be required in order to fully enable our vision for integrated care in Northumberland.  We are working closely with NHS England and others to move this work forward as quickly as possible.

However, this does not stop our work to develop new models of integrated care in Northumberland and much work is already underway to involve and engage all stakeholders as we look to improve how well our services are joined-up.

How will a single accountable care organisation improve integration?

We anticipate many benefits for patient care, for example:

  • all parts of the system would be able to work towards the same shared quality, performance and outcome objectives to improve patient care
  • there would be more effective measurement and monitoring of whether care is delivered in an integrated way and, crucially, whether it improves outcomes and experience for patients
  • improved data sharing across organisational boundaries which would reduce the need for patients to repeat ‘their story’ to different health professionals and different parts of the health and social care system
  • making sure funding flows in the right way to allow care to take place in the most convenient place for patients and makes most effective use of resources across health and social care
  • breaking down organisational barriers, such as different systems, processes and care protocols and, instead, develop unified leadership, cultures and behaviours at local level with all teams working towards common goals with shared values centred on empowering patients and personalising care

What will this work mean for health and care staff?

Integrating care will make it easier for teams across different organisations to work more effectively together in a joined up way and with the same shared goals for delivering high quality patient care.  Our vision is that care we will be delivered by an aligned, integrated workforce, operating as one team, in one system with joined-up systems and processes.

Staff across all organisations will gain a greater and shared understanding of the challenges faced by colleagues in different parts of the ‘system’, providing an opportunity to innovate, learn new skills and develop ideas together on how to continually improve patient care.

How can I give my views on what needs to be improved?

We are encouraging as many people as possible to give their views by completing our online survey throughout February.  This will help inform how we build better ways of working between teams so that we can join up care.  You can complete the survey by clicking here and share this link with others you know who live in Northumberland.

How can I get more involved in this work?

Throughout February we are encouraging everyone who lives or works in Northumberland to complete our online survey.  This includes patients, staff and the public.

Please click here to tell us about your experiences of care and how we can improve our health and care system.  Please share this link far and wide amongst your networks to make sure we capture as many views as possible. 

There will also be many more opportunities to join us at engagement events across Northumberland over the coming months and these will be widely publicsed.  To keep up-to-date with news and events click here to sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

How are staff being involved?

The views and input of our 10,000 strong workforce are integral to the success of our ambitions for Northumberland and we will be closely involving staff across all organisations to seek their input at to how we can make services more streamlined and undertand the current barriers which we need to fix.

We are already holding some initial in-depth focus group discussions with staff from a variety of roles across our health and care system to understand fully what we need to improve.

We would also like all health and care staff who live in Northumberland to complete our online survey (click here).

Any staff who would like more detailed information about how they can become more involved should contact us using the this form.