The NICE way of supporting health and social care

With the pressures the NHS and social care are facing, partnership working is vital. Nicola Bent, programme director for system engagement at NICE, discusses the progress and successes of STPs and ICS

NICE evidence based guidance plays an important role in improving the health and well-being of people accessing frontline services. We work with health professionals and social care practitioners at a local level and partnership organisations to do this effectively within the health and care system. With the pressures the NHS and social care are facing, partnership working is vital and is the way forward. It’s a key element for the sustainability of high quality services within health and social care, so much so, that sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) have been created.

STPs and ICSs have become integral to the delivery of services at a local level, with the health and social care organisations coming together, in some cases for the first time. We’re working towards an environment and culture where health bodies and local authorities are working effectively together, with a shared vision and purpose – to deliver high quality care and improved outcomes. To do this effectively, organisations like NICE must support STPs and ICSs by providing help and advice. As a key national body this is something we’re already doing.

Common themes in partnerships
When each STP developed its plan, it was clear that each one was different. They were at different stages of maturity of relationships between local organisations, their capacity to deal with normal operational business and their large scale transformations varied. Some had progressed with their goals whilst others were still just starting out, forging new relationships with local partners. At NICE we carried out a review of the plans and some common themes emerged.

We recognised that for many STPs there was a focus on: preventing ill health to reduce the demand on health and care services; enhancing primary care and integrating it with social care and community services to help keep people well and out of hospital; standardising acute hospital care to ensure it is of good quality and services are located where they are needed; improving the quality of care and access to services for people with long term conditions such as cancer and mental health illness; and strong finance and efficiency.

These themes form a big part of our support for STPs and ICSs. We’re currently developing a tailored package to help each STP and ICS progress with their work. This package includes themed resources which include a comprehensive overview of key relevant NICE products accompanied by a clear narrative of how they can be used to help STPs and ICSs achieve their ambitions. We also offer a dedicated member of our field team (a team of specialists who work on behalf of NICE with teams and organisations across the UK and Northern Ireland) to work with STP and ICS leads and their organisations. As part of this offer of support, we’re able to show areas how to take our guidance, advice and quality standards and implement this into their work.

In each case, the NICE field team will advise, support and connect with local STP and ICS leaders and organisations to support the delivery of high quality cost effective care. Ultimately this will support with bridging the three main gaps highlighted in the Five Year Forward View. These include, the challenges the NHS and social care are facing with funding and efficiency, working to ensure services are of the same quality across the country and helping to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation. We’re also able to help services plan and deliver on quality assurance, develop and evaluate new care models and share best practice and learning with each other. As well as all this, an important part of our work is introducing STPs and ICSs to specialist departments both within NICE, but also with other organisations and networks. Good partnership working is key for STPs and ICSs to work successfully which is why this is a key component of the package we’re able to offer along with our expertise.

Transforming care
Our work is already underway as we’re having conversations with local areas and their STP and ICS leaders. Our field team experts are discussing what support they might need and offering them help to use our guidance, quality standards and advice to help improve services for patients and their families. We’re also well underway with development of our themed resources and these will be available later this year. They will be launched at the NICE conference on the 26 June 2018 in Manchester. As well as this, we’re also looking for suggestions of other areas across NICE where we could offer more support for STPs and ICSs and there are exciting opportunities being explored in partnership with other national organisations too. The field team is working with the regional offices and centres of Public Health England to deliver support on cardiovascular disease prevention. Conversations are also happening with NHS England RightCare and the NICE Medicines and Technologies Programme about support for medicines optimisation which is a feature of the STP work stream on finance and efficiency.

We know STPs and ICCs are playing a significant role in transforming the health and care service and we remain keen to play our part in supporting them to achieve their ambitions and offering help where we can.

Setup in 1999, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produces evidence based guidance, advice and recommendations for health, public health and social care practitioners.

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