A new £100m fund intended to “transform” the way health and social services are delivered by staff in Wales, via “new models of seamless care”, has been welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing.
The country’s new Transformation Programme will focus on developing new ways of integrating services based in community and primary care settings “to meet the needs of the Welsh population”.
“The focus will be on using the funding for a small number of programmes”
The £100m Fund, announced as part of the budget, will help to deliver the recommendations of the Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care, which was published last month in a report titled A Revolution from Within: Transforming Health and Care in Wales.
The review was established, on a cross-party basis, to advise on how to meet the key challenge for public services to “better anticipate and address new demands upon them effectively”.
Chaired by Dr Ruth Hussey, it made 10 key recommendations and especially called for new models of care that were organised around patients and in community settings.
For example, it stated that there should be a “move to a seamless new way of working”, with care “organised around the individual and their family as close to home as possible”.
“Care and support should be seamless, without artificial barriers between physical and mental health, primary and secondary care, or health and social care,” stated the review’s report.
“Care and support should be seamless, without artificial barriers”
Drawn up with input from a range of clinical experts, including nursing academic Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, it also cited the need to focus on prevention, easy access and digital technology.
“There should now be rapid acceleration of action to develop, implement, and evaluate” such new models of care, it said, noting that there were examples “already emerging” in different parts of Wales and there was a need to “encourage these to be spread right across the country”.
The review also flagged examples from other countries, such as work in England on some of the so-called “vanguard” pilot projects and also integrated care models in Canterbury in New Zealand.
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The report added that there was a need to “urgently align the workforce with new service models”. “Wales should aim to be a great place to train and work,” it said.
This week, Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said he wanted to see the £100m used to develop “new, bold and innovative ways of delivering services to secure a sustainable future”.
He stated that the money would “not be used to offset pressures in the system that should be managed through increases in efficiency from the additional funding already allocated”.
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Speaking at the NHS Confederation on Wednesday, he said: “The Transformation Fund will be heavily targeted at driving forward those changes to health and social care services that the parliamentary review said were needed.
“The focus will be on using the funding for a small number of programmes that can have the greatest impact in developing and delivering new models of transformed services,” he told the audience of health professionals.
He added: “It will be used to improve population health, drive forward integration of health and care services, focus on building primary care services, provide care closer to home, and provide some support to transforming hospital-based care.”
Last month, Mr Gething announced that funding for the delivery of respiratory care was set to be “rebalanced” in Wales away from hospitals and towards specialist nurses working in the community.
Responding to the comments from Mr Gething on new models of care, RCN Wales associate director Helen Whyley welcomed announcement of an additional £100m for health and social care.
“This funding must be invested in transforming the NHS in Wales to provide better facilities and resources and not propping up existing budgets and duplicating current services,” she said.
“Increasing integration between health and social care in local communities is the right approach”
Ms Whyley noted that meeting the health service’s financial challenges and public expectation was “tough” and the new funding was a “positive first step” to begin implementing the review’s recommendations.
She also highlighted that the review had set out the importance of improved workforce planning and recruitment and retention. “We expected to see these recommendations central in the way the funding is used,” she said.
Ms Whyley added: “Nurses and health care support workers are passionate about the quality of the care they deliver and are powerful advocates for their patients.
“Increasing integration between health and social care in local communities is the right approach to better meeting the needs of the population,” she said.
“Nurses have a critical role in these services and we have highlighted, in particular, the importance in investing in practice nurses, district nurses, learning disability nurses and nurses caring for the older person,” she said.
She added: “Some of the most exciting developments in health care in recent years have taken place outside of hospitals. Nursing has been at the forefront of shaping new services to meet better the needs of patients and the public in the 21st century.”