Proposals for integrated NHS and social care in England broadly welcomed

The government has announced a proposed shake-up of the NHS and social care in England, which it hopes will make specialised health care, community-based health services and social care "more integrated, more innovative and responsive".

The changes will come in the form of local Integrated Care Systems (ICS), which aim to tackle bureaucracy and encourage health services - including hospitals, GP surgeries and social care - to work more closely together.

People living with a muscle-wasting condition rely on well-coordinated and joined up care that involves specialist neuromuscular multi-disciplinary teams, community-based health professionals including GPs, OTs, physiotherapists and nurses and local authority-funded social care support. These services are currently funded and managed by a wide range of organisations, which can make it hard for clinicians and NHS decision makers to resolve issues quickly.

Earlier this year Muscular Dystrophy UK participated in NHS England & Improvement’s (NHSE/I) consultation on plans to devolve greater responsibilities and resources to Integrated Care Systems) across England. MDUK broadly supports the principle of increased integration and collaboration across the NHS and social care, but notes that people living with a muscle-wasting condition must be represented in these new groups.

For many years MDUK has been calling for NHS-funded regional neuromuscular clinical networks to help improve care, with some success. We hope that Integrated Care Systems facilitate more of these networks being set up, which would better unite neuromuscular care teams.

Robert Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:

Today’s news has potential for improving the care of people with muscle-wasting conditions. Increased collaboration and integration of specialist healthcare, community-based care and social care teams can only be a good thing, especially because people living with muscle-wasting conditions need timely support from a range of healthcare and social care providers. MDUK hopes that today’s announcement will facilitate a landscape that allows for the creation of more regional NHS neuromuscular clinical networks, so that everyone with a muscle-wasting condition receives strengthened specialist and community care.

Health and social care is already more integrated in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, however, MDUK will continue to work with health professionals and decision makers to ensure people with muscle-wasting conditions can access best practice care wherever they live in the UK.

Find out more about the work we are doing to improve care for people with a muscle-wasting condition.