From April 2017 health and care partners in Northumberland are set to form England’s first accountable care organisation (ACO), building on successful work over many years to join up services.
The ACO for Northumberland will be the first of its kind in the whole NHS and is a partnership between both providers and commissioners of local NHS services including Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, primary care services, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
Crucially, the ACO will also include commissioners of NHS services with a shared support structure already in place, in shadow form, between Northumberland County Council and NHS Northumberland CCG. This pioneering approach will maximise the opportunities for an integrated, strategic commissioning approach across NHS services, social care and public health.
The new way of working in Northumberland aims to create a much more sustainable NHS for the future, by breaking down organisational barriers and joining up services for patients. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will be the host provider of the new ACO partnership, which will build on work which has been taking place over the past two years in Northumberland since the county was awarded ‘vanguard’ status*.
To help people understand more about the new ACO partnership in Northumberland and how this will help deliver the ambitions of the wider draft regional sustainability and transformation plan, members of the public are being invited to a series of engagement events in January to find out more.Supported by Healthwatch Northumberland, the events will be held as follows:
· Tuesday 10 January – Hexham Community Centre (2-4pm)
· Thursday 12 January – Blyth Community Enterprise Centre (10am-12pm)
· Thursday 12 January – Northumberland CVA, Ashington (2-4pm)
· Friday 13 January – Bellview Resource Centre, Belford (10am-12pm)
Local GP Dr Alistair Blair, who has been at the forefront of the vanguard programme, said: “In Northumberland we’re well ahead in terms of joining up different parts of our health and care system and we’ve already delivered some major innovations. The transformation of emergency care, despite some of the teething challenges at The Northumbria, is already having a very positive impact not only on patient care, outcomes and experiences, but also on the efficiency of our system as a whole. We now need to build on these achievements and really focus our collective efforts on supporting people to stay healthy and well. The development of an ACO will allow us to do just that and will be a major step forward in helping us to proactively address some of the really big challenges facing the NHS.”
Mr David Evans, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “The ACO development represents new territory for the entire NHS and means, for the first time, all health and care organisations will be around the top table to discuss and agree, as strategic partners, how best to invest in patient care and develop services. Nowhere else in the country is doing this and it is testament to the strong, positive relationships that exist right across our system that we are so far ahead.
“Our vanguard work is critical to the successful delivery of the ambitions outlined in both the NHS Five Year Forward View and the sustainability and transformation planning which has been taking place right across the NHS. All of this work fits together and is focussed on three simple things; improving the healthcare people receive; preventing ill health; and making sure the NHS operates as efficiently as possible, both now and in the future.”