Monitor's latest guidance on integrated care looks at how healthcare providers and commissioners can enable better integration of care so services are less fragmented and easier for patients to access.
Monitor as the health sector regulator has a legal duty to consider how it can enable integrated care where this improves the quality outcomes or efficiency of services or reduces inequalities of access or outcomes. The regulator has various powers that help it to:
- remove barriers
- consider how to enable integrated care provision including stopping things that block it
- actively support the sector
But what about competition and integration - Monitor's view is that competition and integration are not mutually exclusive and that competition does not and should not have to come at the expense of beneficial co-ordination.
In collaboration with national partners Monitor aims to support and create the conditions for person centred co-ordinated care. That said it will be for commissioners working with local healthcare providers to develop and fund better integrated care patterns for their local populations.
As for healthcare providers Monitor's NHS provider licence includes an Integrated Care Condition which enables the regulator to take action if integrated care is not being delivered. The condition provides that NHS provider licence holders should not do anything that might be 'detrimental' to enabling integrated care.
In short Monitor's guidance sets a clear direction on integrated care and sends a strong message to commissioners and providers of healthcare that integrated care and support is an important issue and will remain so.