Hopes that forthcoming government guidance will require the NHS to plan jointly with local government for care outside hospital have been voiced by the social care representative on Connecting for Health’s Board.

“There will be a number of instances where, unless that is required, it will not happen,” David Johnstone told the British Computer Society Primary Healthcare Specialist Group summer meeting.

Johnstone, who is also Devon County Council’s director of adult and community service, was referring to guidance due to be issued on the White Paper, Our Health, Our Care, Our Say. Throughout his presentation, however, he emphasised the need for co-operation.

“The future is essentially about integration, collaboration and getting out of the traditional silos. If we don’t do that we will fail and fail spectacularly,” he said.

In his role on the Connecting for Health Board he said he had been pushing the need for integrated information systems. In particular he had been trying to drive this forward through the single assessment process (SAP).

Johnstone said SAP was crucial as the information gathered during the process fed into both the electronic patient record (EPR) and the electronic social care record (ESCR).

In his own area of the South-west peninsula, Johnston said he had been chairing the SAP board. After two and a half years of ‘pain, trauma and argument’ the region was finally driving forward with a single process across the whole region.  This would enable single data entry into the EPR and ESCP, he said, but cautioned that progress around the country was very fragmented.