While some improvements have been made to the delivery of health and social care services, Integration Authorities, councils and NHS boards need to show a stronger commitment to collaborative working to achieve the real long term benefits of an integrated system.
A report for the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission notes some progress, but says the remaining challenges are significant. It finds that success will depend on long term integrated financial planning and stable and effective leadership.
The report says all bodies involved need to tackle these issues as a matter of urgency in order to transform the way services are provided for Scotland’s ageing population.
Integration Authorities are collectively responsible for almost £9 billion of health and social care spending. The context for integration is increasingly challenging, with rising demand for services and mounting financial pressures on councils and NHS Boards.
Caroline Gardner, Auditor General, said:
"All partners, at a national and local level, need to work together to ensure the successful delivery of integrated health and social care services in Scotland. This will allow people to receive the care they need at the right time and in the right setting, with a focus on community-based, preventative care."
Graham Sharp, Chair, Accounts Commission said:
“There are examples of integrated health and social care services making a positive difference to people’s lives, but these tend to be local and small scale. The potential for a profound and long-term shift in the way health and social care services are delivered is clear, but there is still a long way to go.
A collective effort from the Scottish Government, COSLA, NHS Boards, councils and the Integration Authorities is needed for health and social integration to make a more meaningful difference to the people of Scotland.”