Public services still failing to put citizens first, says Turning Point and Collaborate report

News item posted: 19 June 2017

Too many people are still being passed from ‘pillar to post’ because of failed attempts to integrate services around public need, says a new report today (Wednesday 21st September) by social care organisation Turning Point and the think tank Collaborate.

'Moving from the margins: The challenges of building integrated local services' argues that joined-up services which are responsive to the people using them and the needs of local communities should be at the heart of social and public reforms in the NHS, local government and criminal justice system.

Based on views from social sector experts, the report outlines seven insights that are relevant for policymakers, commissioners and public service providers. These insights include a need to shift the debate from that of austerity to a focus instead on social challenges in local areas, and make better use of the resources that are available.     

The document’s over-riding message is simple: local integrated services should be at the heart of strategies for social renewal and public service reform. The fundamental change that this approach implies - shifting power away from 'producers' and towards communities - is incredibly hard to make happen. But there are people and places that have started to do things differently and their approaches can be learned from and built on, according to Turning Point and Collaborate.

'Moving from the margins' highlights how models of integrated care, such as Connected Care, the MEAM Approach, and West London Zone for Children and Young People (WLZ), are working with citizens in novel ways, and this shift in engagement enables them to:

* get feedback from marginalised and isolated groups in order to tailor services around them.

* work with families to identify areas of support for them and their children.

* listen to people with long-term conditions so they are diverted from overburdened A and Es to appropriate care.

* improve policy and services for those with overlapping multiple needs such as ill health, homelessness and alcohol misuse.

However, considerable cultural and behavioural barriers must be overcome for power to shift from commissioners to communities, according to 'Moving from the margins'. Existing infrastructure which enables collaboration and innovation is lacking; regulation of public services is excessive in some sectors; and funding schemes operate in silos.  

Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of Turning Point said: 'Joined-up public services are an affordable and effective way of improving outcomes for citizens locally.

'Integrated systems across sectors such as policing and mental health care can provide people with the right support. Yet integration still only exist on the fringes because of barriers to reform.

'With public sector budgets shrinking and demand for services growing, change is required urgently and a shift in behaviour and culture is necessary to achieve this. Achieving reform is a challenge, but if Theresa May is to meet her promise to tackle economic and social divides in this country then we must start by ensuring those who rely on public services get the support they both need and deserve.'

Sarah Billiald, managing director of Collaborate said: 'We need to be looking to harness the things, such as behaviours and infrastructure, that pull services together rather than push them apart.

'The longer we put organisational structures and traditional roles before collaboration for better citizen outcomes, the longer we will see inefficiency in public services.'

Find the report on our resources page.