Closer integration of health and social care services, with the aim of ending the historic divide between the NHS and social services, has been the goal of successive governments for decades. The rationale has been widely accepted – service improvement, a holistic approach, better use of resources and meeting the needs arising from future demographic change – and various methods of integration have been tried and tested, ranging from joint working to full structural integration.
A new book written by Deidre Heenan and Derek Birrell from the University of Ulster and edited by Professor Jon Glasby, Professor of Social Care at the University of Birmingham, provides a timely and much needed systematic assessment of recent policy developments across the four countries of the UK. The book, The Integration of Health and Social Care in the UK, introduces the different models of integration which currently operate - from structural integration in Northern Ireland to health and care partnerships in Scotland. It examines the achievements of integrated working, showing how it can lead to improvements in the quality of services and access to services, as well as create cost efficiencies. It also considers barriers to integration and draw comparisons with experiences in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe to identify lessons for practice in the UK.
Professor Jon Glasby said: “Devolution means that we have four different health and social care systems from which we can learn – four natural experiments that could help us improve the care we deliver. Too often we look to perceived good practice examples from other countries (often from the US, in the case of the health service), when there’s so much we could learn from each other across the four countries of the UK.”
The book is part of the ‘Interagency working in health and social care’ series, published by Palgrave and edited by Jon Glasby. Other titles in the series include:
- Mental health policy and practice (by Professor Jon Glasby and Professor Jerry Tew, Professor of Mental Health and Social Work, The University of Birmingham)
- Partnerships for public health (by Rob Baggott)
- Working with disabled people in policy and practice (by Sally French and John Swain)
- Children’s perspectives on integrated services (by Maria Kellett)
- Learning disability policy and practice: changing lives? (by Valerie Williams)