24 January 2019
Source: The Kings Fund
This report is a call to action on community services. The longstanding ambition to strengthen these services has not been realised. Growing financial and workforce pressures are having an impact on the ability of service providers to meet the needs of the population and to make a reality of the vision set out in the NHS five year forward view (Forward View) (NHS England et al 2014).
We argue that a radical transformation of community services is needed. This means increasing the share of the NHS budget allocated to these services and making use of all the assets in each local community wherever these are to be found. It also means breaking down silos between services and reducing fragmentation in service delivery. The focus must be on improving population health as well as integrating care.
This report differs from some previous analyses of community services by adopting a broad definition of their scope. We include services commissioned by the NHS and local authorities as well as related services delivered by the third sector, the private sector, carers and families. Taken together, these services comprise a wide range of assets and there are many opportunities to use them more effectively to meet the population’s needs.
Every area of England should exploit these opportunities, recognising the time it will take to increase the share of the NHS budget allocated to community services. This should include pooling health and social care budgets, redoubling efforts to integrate services, and fully engaging the third sector, the private sector and others in transforming care. NHS primary care and community health services should be at the centre of these efforts.