Boroughs working together to drive forward a health revolution

Cheryl Coppell, senior responsible officer for north east London's new Accountable Care Organisation

Cheryl Coppell, senior responsible officer for north east London's new Accountable Care Organisation - Credit: Archant

Health chiefs in north east London are making a bid to revolutionise the way health care is delivered to 750,000 people.

Services across Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge will draw up a business case to improve care and save money by working together.

Cheryl Coppell, chief executive of Havering Council and one of two senior responsible officers for the scheme, explained why it is vital the boroughs innovate.

“We cannot carry on as we are because we will have £400million of debt by 2020,” she said. “That’s just the NHS, add to that three authorities who spend two-thirds of their money on social care.

“Something has to be done and something fairly dramatic.”

The three borough authorities, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs Queen’s and King George hospitals – North East London NHS Foundation Trust, and the boroughs’ three Clinical Commissioning Groups will spend the next six months creating a plan for an Accountable Care Organisation (ACO).

The ACO, made up of leaders from each of the services, will aim to improve communication between health and social care departments and prevent overlap in provision.

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The pilot scheme, announced by chancellor George Osborne in December, will be the first time an umbrella group has been created bringing together service leaders in this way.

If the business plan gets government approval a major cash injection from a pot of £3.9billion, put aside by chancellor George Osborne to innovate health delivery, could be on its way to north east London.

On top of this, the ACO could see health powers devolved including control of the area’s health budget, 60per cent of which is currently controlled nationally, allowing it to tailor spending to the boroughs’ demographics.

Mrs Coppell said: “This is a real chance, a real possibility, not just a talking shop. If we come up with the right ideas we can radically change the system. It’s exciting but very challenging.”

The ACO will be faced with the challenge of three very different boroughs, each presenting its own health challenges.

Barking and Dagenham is the third most deprived area in the country, Havering has the oldest population in the capital, while Redbridge has the highest rate of stillbirths in London.

Mrs Coppell said that by working together the borough’s health and social care teams would be better able to meet all these demands.

The approach has already achieved success in the area with a multi-service Joint Assessment Discharge Team, established three years ago, improving the speed of hospital discharges.

The ACO will consult with clinicians and the public as it draws up plans. If successful, changes could be seen in 2017.