Collaboration across health and care is key to mitigating the risk of a “tsunami of unmet need” this winter, the Care Quality Commission has said.
The stark warning was issued by the CQC with the publication of its annual assessment of the state of health and social care in England.
Ian Trenholm (pictured), chief executive of CQC, (pictured) said: “It’s going to be a difficult winter. We need to grasp the opportunity now to build something better and avoid a tsunami of unmet need.”
The CQC chief said new models of care were necessary to ensure that people receive the care they need where and when they need it, and highlighted Integrated Care Systems (ICS) as a “good vehicle” to take the sector forward. He added that it is “more important than ever” to make best use of resources available by local systems working together to make sure people are being cared for in the most appropriate place.
“We need local leaders to come together to get us through the coming winter and to give breathing space for the ICS to start to function over the coming years,” Trenholm said.
Ted Baker, chief inspector of Hospitals at the CQC, said there needs to be a system-wide approach to help the health and social care sectors get through the winter.
He explained: “The different parts of the system have to work together well. We need the hospitals supporting the ambulance service and the ambulance service supporting the wider community. This will only work well if there is a system-wide response. It cannot all be managed in one department. There is no quick fix – it will be a difficult winter no matter what happens – but with local solutions people can work through it, focusing on the safety of their patients.”
The CQC also highlighted rising staff vacancy rates in social care which have resulted in quality suffering and some providers having to hand back their registrations.
It stressed that work needs to begin now in order to address the immediate problem of rising vacancy rates.
“While staffing is an issue for all sectors, we’re particularly concerned about adult social care. We’re seeing rising vacancy rates, some providers having to hand back their registrations as they don’t have enough staff to deliver care, and examples of quality suffering due to lack of staff,” Trenholm said.
“If the new government funding is to have an impact, it needs to be used to do things differently and to develop genuinely collaborative ways of working across all care settings. And staff need to be supported and rewarded.”
When asked by HCI whether the CQC believes that more funding should be directed to the home care sector in order to reduce pressures on the NHS, chief inspector of Adult Social Care, Kate Terroni, said: “People get really good outcomes when they receive the right amount of support at the right time, in the right place and with a workforce that is suitably trained, so people getting access to good quality home care in their own homes can have great outcomes for them and for their families. Also, it can prevent people needing more expensive services further down the track.
“We have some real hopes for Integrated Care Systems and look to a future where health and social care leaders will consider where they can best spend the total amount of money on health and care. We are all very keen to see some of that money moving upstream so that people get access to that prevention and low-level support to stop people needing more [expensive] care.”