The key to a joined-up health and social care system is appreciating the differences and values of each service, wherever provided by consultants, nurses, GPs, the local authority or the voluntary sector.
The immediate priority at the point of the integration of community services Wandsworth with St George’s Healthcare in October was to ensure service continuity. Behind the scenes, much of the focus has been on making sure that the merged corporate and support services, like governance and finance, are fullly integrated, using common systems and processes to support patient care whilst work continues on transforming clinical services, led by Di Caulfeild-Stoker, divisional chair, and Karen Larcombe, programme director.
The recent integration of community services Wandsworth with St George’s Healthcare is an exciting change that will significantly improve care for local people by providing more services closer to and in their own homes.
A more joined-up workforce will enable St George’s Healthcare to play a greater role in the prevention of ill health and focus our resources on developing integrated clinical teams, providing even better care closer to where people live. Aligning community and acute services will further reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital and help patients leave hospital as soon as it is safe for them to do so.
Clinical redesign work to date has been focused on four specific areas: older people’s services; urgent care; sexual health and diabetes. The community services Wandsworth older people’s service and the St George’s Healthcare geriatric medicine care group are now part of the same team, not only making the pathways between hospital, community and home care smoother, but also meaning that savings on management costs can be reinvested into patient care.
Cardiac rehabilitation services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton
Similarly, the Tooting Walk-in Centre and St George’s Hospital Accident & Emergency Department are now part of the same care group, planning for the development of an urgent care centre at St George’s Hospital. Project groups made up of hospital and community staff, GPs, social services and patient representatives have been busy working on new models of care for sexual health and diabetes services in Wandsworth. Work has also been ongoing in neuro-rehabilitation, therapies and children’s services.
New clinical projects
In addition, the following clinical services have now been identified as areas where integration can deliver significant benefits to patients, like changing clinical pathways to improve quality of care and patient experience:
- Dental services
- Laboratory services
- Heart failure and cardiac rehabilitation
GP input into these new clinical projects is essential as they provide an excellent opportunity for GPs to drive the commissioning of good quality services through an integrated health system.
GPs have been vital to the integration process at both corporate and clinical levels, with valued contributions in a number of workstreams, including the integration programme board and the clinical services steering group. We want to build on this to make sure that the GP voice is central in future planning.
Radiology services in the rapid diagnostic centre at Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton
Programme director Karen Larcombe will be happy to attend practice meetings to discuss opportunities that integration could bring to the benefit of patients. For further information, or to find out how to get involved, please contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important to note that although community staff and services have transferred over to St George’s Healthcare, the buildings, including Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, are still managed by NHS Wandsworth.