Tick box approach to health integration criticised

Carer and patient

Joining health and social care is not working, MSPs are told 

12th September 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Health and social care services offered by integration authorities (IAs) need to engage more meaningfully with communities and health professionals.

The Scottish Parliament's health and sport committee said IAs are too often using a "tick box" approach to consulting others.

Integration authorities join up the NHS, councils and the third sector to shift care from hospitals into the community.

An inquiry by the committee assessed how effective this has been so far.  

In a report published today, the committee found a lack of consistency in stakeholder engagement across IAs, which are now in their second year of operation.

The committee heard evidence from a range of organisations including Alzheimer Scotland, the Coalition of Carers, the Royal College of Physicians and RCN Scotland.

While some areas of good practice were cited on stakeholder engagement, the committee heard concerns over engagement being "tokenistic", "overly top down" and "just communicating decisions that had already been made".

The committee said a “piecemeal approach to engagement” with stakeholders cannot continue, and that meaningful engagement is fundamental to the successful integration of health and social care services. 

They are clearly not working as intended - Neil Findlay

Health and sport committee convener Neil Findlay MSP said: “We are now two years into the operation of IAs and they are clearly not working as intended.

“Too often we heard evidence from communities and health professionals saying this is not meaningful engagement, and a tick box approach is being applied.

“This needs to be fixed.” 

In an earlier submission to the committee, Alzheimer Scotland said the ability to engage and to influence strategy and service delivery was “limited.”

The charity stated: “Joint integration boards frequently only engage in relation to high level information and strategy, with invitations to contribute being purely consultative in nature, around themes which have already been broadly agreed.

“This level of engagement cannot be said to be meaningful, and does not demonstrate commitment to co-production or partnership working.”