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Cumbria: CQC publishes its review of how local health and social care systems work together

21 May 2018
  • Media

The Care Quality Commission has published its findings following a local system review of Cumbria. This report is one of 20 targeted reviews of local authority areas looking specifically at how people move through the health and social care system, with a focus on how services work together.

The reviews look at how hospitals, community health services, GP practices, care homes and homecare agencies work together to provide seamless care for older people living in a local area. The review considered how the system was performing for people aged 65 and more, focusing particularly on typical pressure points.

CQC reviewers found that older people in Cumbria had inconsistent experiences of health and social care. While the organisations involved do have a health and wellbeing strategy and a vision for the whole of Cumbria, there was inconsistency in how the strategy was interpreted and how services were delivered.

There are Cumbria two sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and two clinical commissioning groups, for the north and south of the county. The STP plans differed in their interpretation of the health and wellbeing strategy and there were no specific links between the two plans.

The vision for the health and social care system was that services across the whole of Cumbria would be delivered through 15 integrated care communities which would tailor services to the needs of people living in each local area. This approach was viewed positively across the system but the integrated care communities were newly established and at different stages of maturity in different areas.

People waiting to be discharged from hospital in Cumbria did not always have a positive experience. Some people experienced long delays because of hold ups in the assessment process, because home care packages were not available, and owing to a shortage of suitable care home placements.

There had been some recent improvements with the senior health and social care leaders working together in reducing delays, but it was too early to tell whether these improvements would be sustained in the longer term. In primary care, CQC saw there was excellent leadership, especially in the south that was helping drive change and improvement at Integrated Care Community level.

The system had not resolved the key challenge of ensuring that a suitably skilled health and social care workforce was available in sufficient numbers to meet the needs of local people. The system also needed to work better with independent care providers and with voluntary and community sector services, which played a vital role in keeping people well and out of hospital.

Other barriers to integration persisted, such as separate ICT systems that led to difficulties in information sharing and duplication of effort.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of Primary Care Services, said:

“It is clear that across Cumbria system leaders are keen to build relationships, and improve how they worked together. However, this work is at an early stage and is fragile.

“We could see that the implementation of the health and wellbeing strategy was leading to pockets of progress, with initiatives preventing people from being admitted to hospital unnecessarily and being supported to stay well in their own home.

“However, we found there was variation between how each integrated care community operated, and significant work was needed to ensure that people across the county consistently experienced high-quality care services that met their needs. This would involve more robust planning, governance and performance measures.

“The health and wellbeing strategy, although focusing on improvements to long-standing issues such as keeping people out of hospital avoidance and maintaining people at home, was reactive rather than proactive. This was a missed opportunity to think more creatively about meeting the needs of a diverse and often rural community.

“While it is encouraging to see plans being developed and it is clear that health and social care professionals have real desire to join-up services, the system is very early in its journey towards integration.”


For further information, please contact David Fryer, Regional Communications Manager - North, on 07754 438750.

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Last updated:
11 July 2018

Notes to editors

The Cumbria local system review looked principally at how people move between services provided by 126 residential care homes, 35 nursing homes, 67 homecare agencies, 73 GP practices, one NHS Foundation Trust and two NHS acute Trusts.

This review was carried out following a request from the Secretaries of State for Health and Social care and for Housing, Communities and Local Government to undertake a programme of 20 targeted reviews of local authority areas. The purpose of the reviews is to understand how people move through the health and social care system with a focus on the interfaces between services, and identify any areas for improvement.

During our visit to Cumbria we sought feedback from a range of people and organisations, including. The people we spoke with included:

  • System leaders from Cumbria County Council (the local authority), NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (NCCCG), NHS Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (MBCCG), North Cumbria University Hospital NHS Trust (NCUHT), University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB)
  • Health and social care professionals including social workers, GPs, discharge teams, therapists, staff from North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), nurses and commissioners.
  • Healthwatch Cumbria and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector services
  • Representatives of health and social care providers

This review report makes a number of suggestions of areas for the local system to focus on to secure improvement including:

  • System leaders should develop a coherent health and social care workforce strategy for Cumbria to work in synergy with financial, housing and transport strategies
  • System leaders within Cumbria must work together to develop implementation plans for delivery of their county wide strategy. The implementation plans should include agreed joint outcomes and financial protocols, relevant ICT support, a communications strategy and a co-production approach to ensure that feedback from local people results in changes to delivery intentions.
  • System partners should develop risk sharing and governance mechanisms to measure whether they are using resources in the best way possible to achieve intended outcomes for people in Cumbria.
  • System leaders within Cumbria should develop robust governance arrangements for implementation within the ICCs, which include a monitoring and review structure, defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities
  • System leaders should develop system wide commissioning arrangements, including market shaping.
  • System leaders should work with people who use services, carers, VCSE organsiations and independent care providers to co-design services.
  • System partners should extend GP hours so GPs are more accessible for local people.
  • The system should review reablement provision and services across Cumbria.
  • The system should review CHC assessment processes to ensure assessments timely are there is equality across Cumbria.
  • Cumberland Infirmary should ensure that staff communicate relevant and reliable information to partner organisations when people are discharged from hospital, for example ensuring that discharge summaries are comprehensive and using the red bag system.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.