The partnership, which has been ratified as an ICS by NHS England/Improvement, was set up in 2016 and has delivered savings of £70-100m each year in its work to bring together health and care services for more effective healthcare. Healthwatch sits on the Healthier Together Partnership Board and Health and Wellbeing Boards which meet with the three local authorities.
Some of Healthier Together's work during the pandemic has included ensuring 100 per cent of GP surgeries offer telephone and video consultations, developing a 24-7 mental health helpline and improving delays in hospital discharge among those who are medically fit.
In April 2020 Healthier Together took significant steps forward in integrating hospital and community services.
Firstly, with the merger of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and Weston Area Healthcare Trust, as one of two main providers of acute services. o Secondly, in establishing Sirona Health and Care as a single provider of community health services across BNSSG.
In responding to the Covid-19 pandemic in BNSSG we have strengthened collaborative working in area such as
· Primary care – 100% of GP practices offering telephone and video consultations. · Integrated Care
· Mental Health – Providing 24/7 telephone access for all age mental health crisis support.
· Urgent Care – Secured an Integrated Urgent Care Service, bringing together NHS 111 with the GP out of hours service and a successful launch of our ‘NHS 111 First’ programme in November.
· Care Homes– Providing support to care homes with one 24/7 telephone line to help prevent avoidable hospital admissions.
· Outpatients – More than 1500 video consultations in place of face-to-face outpatient appointments per week during Phase 1 of the pandemic, with up to 89% of patients reporting they would be happy to have another outpatient appointment by video call.
· Cancer Care – Implementing FIT testing for colorectal cancer screening.
Hospital discharge – Transforming hospital discharge by working with NHS, Social Care and voluntary sector to reduce Medically Fit For Discharge (MFFD) delays by 60- 70% in Phase 1 of the pandemic.
What is an ICS and how do they work?
In an integrated care system, NHS organisations, in partnership with local councils and others, take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering NHS care, and improving the health of the population they serve. Integrated care systems have allowed organisations to work together and coordinate services more closely, to make real, practical improvements to people’s lives. For staff, improved collaboration can help to make it easier to work with colleagues from other organisations.