Integration of Care

Across the UK, GPs and their teams are taking a lead on designing, delivering and commissioning new NHS services that are better integrated around the needs of patients. With an increasing number of people now living with multiple long term conditions, it is more important than ever that patients can access services designed around their needs, led by expert medical generalists working in the community.

The RCGP has long championed the development of integrated care, and this page collects together some of the work we have done in this area.

Five tests of integrated care

Across the UK, a wide variety of different models of integrated patient care are being piloted. Building on our existing work and the growing body of evidence in this area, RCGP has developed the following five tests which can be used as a framework to assess different models of integration and inform policy.

Proposed models of integrated care should:

  • Ensure community-based services are led by community-based clinicians with a person-centred perspective.
  • Underpin safe patient care by ensuring that GPs can continue to act as independent advocates for their patients, with the emphasis on the person not the institution.
  • Be person focused, responding to the needs of the individual and protecting them from over-medicalisation, with General Practitioners working with specialists to contribute to the holistic care of the individual.

Proposed models of integrated care must not:

  • Lead to major top down structural reorganisation, which would lead to the setting up of new bureaucratic structures and divert millions of pounds away from patient care.
  • Lead to the diversion of NHS funding away from general practice and primary care given their vital role in delivering person centred care.

RCGP policy paper on integrated care

This policy paper - published in 2012 following extensive consultation with RCGP members and external organisations - sets out the RCGP's vision for integrated care.

The report concludes that integration of care is about placing patients at the centre of the design and delivery of care. It leads to better outcomes for patients, safer services and improved patient experience, and can also act as an enabler of more cost effective care. As such, it is an urgent priority for the NHS, particularly at a time when the number of patients with long term and complex conditions is rising, and when services are under growing financial strain.

There is a natural affinity between the principles that underpin integrated care and general practice. This report draws on the experience of the RCGP’s members to make the case for integrated care; sets out the leading role that general practice can play in implementing it; and asks what needs to be done by policy makers and professionals to support this.

It sets out the following RCGP definition of integration of care: 'Patient-centred, primary care led, delivered by multi-professional teams, where each profession retains their professional autonomy but works across professional and organisational boundaries to deliver the best possible health outcomes.’  

Further RCGP work on integration of care

The following pieces of work produced by RCGP also cover issues relating to integration of care:

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