A new model of care for Northumberland

The new model is being discussed at the council's cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The new model is being discussed at the council's cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Councillors are to discuss plans for a new model for NHS care in Northumberland, part of the county’s trailblazing efforts as a ‘vanguard site’, next week.

On Tuesday, Northumberland County Council’s cabinet members will be provided with an update on work carried out to identify requirements for the planning and funding of NHS services in the county, which would further enhance the authority’s partnership with the NHS.

The proposed arrangements include the creation of an Accountable Care Organisation – a partnership of NHS organisations responsible for all detailed financial and planning decisions about core NHS services for Northumberland residents. This would be overseen by a strategic commissioning function, officer support for which would come from an integrated unit based in the council.

At the meeting, the cabinet will be asked to endorse the continuation of work on the proposals, but not make any final decisions at this stage.

Work would continue on legal, organisational and financial issues and organisations involved will be asked to make firm decisions around the end of the current calendar year, with the ambition to establish fully operational new arrangements from April 2017.

Susan Dungworth, the council’s portfolio holder for adult care and public health, said: “Northumberland has been identified nationally as one of the areas which is best placed to test out new ways of integrating health and social care, building on our history of working together to create services that are designed around people rather than organisations. These are difficult times for the NHS and for social care, because of austerity policies, but we are aiming to find solutions by joining together.”

Daljit Lally, Northumberland’s deputy chief executive, added: “There is still a lot of hard work to do on the details, but we think the arrangements which we’re developing with Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group will help us to make sure that we spend more of the limited funding available on supporting people to stay healthy and independent, reducing the need for crisis care in hospital.”

Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Health and social care organisations in Northumberland already have a strong track record of working together to deliver joined-up care for patients.

“The proposed Accountable Care Organisation, if realised, should give us an opportunity to develop these relationships further and we are looking forward to working more closely with the council to commission services in a more streamlined and effective way to provide an integrated care system for our patients.”