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NHS Continuing Healthcare [CHC]: Lightening the pressure on health & social care professionals

It’s no secret that Covid-19 affected everyone in one way, shape or form. Some more so than others. As the after-effects ricochet across all industries, the NHS and social care like other sectors are feeling the impact on budgets, waiting lists and service delivery. As the NHS and social care purse strings tighten, we must begin to assess and implement innovative solutions to help loosen the pressure and strain on our dedicated health and care professionals.

Let’s take a step back in time – it was the peak of the global pandemic, and Covid-19 infections had begun to infiltrate hospitals, care homes and workplaces. Needing to protect staff, services and patients, the Department of Health took the decision to relax its budgets to enable patients to return home immediately after receiving the necessary treatment in hospital.

Helping non-Covid-19 patients return home sooner, the department of health introduced the Covid-19 Hospital Discharge Services Requirements. This provided funding to enable the safe and rapid discharge of those people who no longer needed to be in a hospital bed – with an emphasis on discharge home today. The guidance mandated cessation of care funding assessments and CHC activity, freeing up health and care professionals to support on the frontline in the response to the pandemic. Whilst freeing up hospital beds, preventing the spread of Covid-19 and increasing the workforce for Covid-19 patients, this led to an unprecedented backlog of assessments and reviews for CHC funding and monumental spending on individuals who would have otherwise self-funded their care. The relaxation of health and care budgets and pausing most non-covid activities enabled CCGs to prioritise Covid-19 cases.

The NHS and Local Authorities are now faced with an overworked and exhausted workforce, an acute lack of resources and capacity in the system, and a significant tightening of budgets whilst having to manage the recovery from the pandemic and a systemic transformation to the structure of the sector with the introduction of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) from the 1st of July 2022. This is an incredible task for leaders in the sector and needs to be acknowledged by the Department of Health and other regulatory bodies.

As ICSs come into effect, it also must be acknowledged that the 42 new ICS organisations will be starting from very different positions and will have varying degrees of the same challenges. For example, some areas may only have 1 upper-tier local authority to integrate and collaborate with whilst others will have many more.  Some systems have been working collaboratively for some time already whilst others are only just starting their journey. Covid-19 helped to advance relationships and collaboration between health and social care organisations and has provided many systems with a platform to build on.

Due to the colossal spending on health and care commissioning budgets during Covid plus the rising cost of care due to a lack of resources, Continuing Healthcare commissioners and finance directors are now faced with a real challenge. Needing to implement a consistent operational delivery across a larger area, innovation and innovative digital solutions will enable health and social care professionals to ensure all patients receive a fair and consistent service whilst eliminating some of the transactional pressures on our health and care professionals. This will also require strong leadership and, in some areas, cultural and behavioural change. The formation of ICS/ICBs will drive more pooled budgets and joined-up commissioning and place collaboration at the forefront by sharing risk and accountability across commissioners. Investment in digital innovation should focus on providing transparency to all stakeholders particularly the individual at the centre of the process, ultimately improving the communication between health and care professionals and enhancing operational efficiencies.

There is a genuine appetite for innovation in the sector. However, given the challenges described earlier and the ever-increasing workload, colleagues find it difficult to allow the necessary time and resources to focus on scoping out or implementing new innovative ways of working and this is where 3rd sector and private providers can help. Being a step away from the day-to-day delivery and having experience from several systems across the country, 3rd sector organisations and companies such as UB Healthcare can offer strategic insights and accumulated best practices to commissioners as well as provide additional support with the implementation of innovation to ensure sustainable transformation.

Personal Health Budgets (PHBs) are an example of how commissioners can ease the pressures by personalising care based on what matters to people and their individual strengths and needs. PHBs are an inventive way for Commissioners to control their care budgets whilst also ensuring that the individual in receipt of funding also has control over how their care and support is delivered. With the aim to improve patients’ experiences whilst helping them get the correct care and support that is right for them. This will undoubtedly free up some resources if appropriately managed. PHBs are part of the NHS’s comprehensive model of personalised care which will, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, transform 2.5 million lives by 2023/24.

Allowing health and care professionals to regain their focus and passion for the job they love, UB Healthcare is providing a helping hand. With our clinical services delivery and transformation services, UB Healthcare will help commissioners navigate the after-effects of Covid-19 and ICS formation by helping our health and care partners deliver innovatively, cost-effective, transformational, and value-based services that address their challenges. UB healthcare enables clients to deliver the best care outcomes for their population

Working collectively with partners, UB Healthcare has successfully supported the integration of organisations across England. Working with UB Healthcare, clients reap the benefits of accumulated best practices and available support to plug gaps in delivery and improve the quality of delivery and the well-being of health and care professionals. Commissioners will benefit from improved patient and colleague satisfaction.

 

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