The purpose of this research was to understand the current state of community services and to explore how the health and care system needs to change to enable these services to meet the needs of the population now and in the future.
Growing financial and workforce pressures are having an impact on the ability of community service providers to meet the needs of the population and to make a reality of the vision set out in the NHS five year forward view. Community services are often fragmented and poorly co-ordinated, and are frequently not well integrated with other services in the community. This results in duplication as well as gaps between teams delivering care.
There is a great deal of innovative work going on across the NHS and beyond to improve community-based care. This is mainly happening through innovative projects rather than system-wide transformations in care delivery. A radical transformation of community services is needed, making use of all the assets in each local community wherever these are to be found, breaking down silos between services and reducing fragmentation in service delivery.
The most promising possibilities in the short term are through sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and accountable care systems (ACSs), where plans have already been developed to strengthen community services and improve population health. More work is needed to ensure that all STPs offer a credible basis for improving care for their populations and strengthening services in the community, drawing on the design principles set out in this report