South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (SYB ICS) will invest £129 million over the next five years to address “significant healthcare challenges and inequalities” in the region and reduce the number of preventable illnesses caused by smoking, obesity and mental illness.

The South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Five Year Plan will see investment concentrated on new treatment centres and community services to decrease hospital admissions and enable care to be delivered closer to patients’ homes.

Crucially, it will also invest in digital services, improving access to online appointment bookings and technology that enables patients to view their own heath records and access video GP appointments.

This includes the introduction of Doctorlink, which is currently being rolled out across Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Doncaster and Sheffield and is already available for use within a number of GP practices across the system.

Bassetlaw, Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Groups procured the online consultation app in 2019.

The platform allows patients to complete a symptoms assessment, which when completed will direct them towards the most appropriate care.

Since introducing the app in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, the ICS has reported a 23% reduction in GP appointments.

The burden of illness

Healthy life expectancy is lower in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw compared to the national average, and there are high levels of the common causes of disability and death including smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and hospital admissions due to alcohol.

The Five Year Plan aims to address these issues by tackling the ‘burden of illness’ where it can be prevented from occurring in the first place.

Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive lead of the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS, said: “As a South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw region we have joined forces to work as a system where it makes sense to do so and where it makes a real difference to patients, staff and the public.

“Our pledges in 2016 were to give people more options for care while joining it up for them in their neighbourhood, help them to stay healthy, tackle health inequalities, improve quality, access and outcomes of care, address workforce pressures and introduce new technologies. We paid particular attention to cancer, mental health and primary care, and the two key enablers of workforce and digital technology.

“Our 2019 plan builds on these but it also focuses on children’s health, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, diabetes, learning disabilities and autism. It takes forward the work to strengthen primary and community-based care and as a result of the review of hospital services across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, the development of Hospital Hosted Networks.”

Key priorities of the Five Year Plan are to:

  • Reduce the number of deaths and preventable harm from smoking, alcohol, obesity and mental illness, including suicide
  • Improve care for people with respiratory illnesses, heart disease and learning disabilities
  • Decrease the number of unnecessary urgent hospital admissions by delivering more community care in the home, utilising paramedics and alternative services to provide healthcare when and where it matters
  • Support older people to stay well through supporting carers and trialling new technology to deliver online healthcare appointments – preventing falls in the home, care homes and hospitals
  • Provide community-based mental health care to support children in schools and adults with complex mental illness to get back, and remain, in work
  • Invest in confidential and secure digital technology to support patients through online appointment bookings, viewing of their own heath records and access to video GP appointments
  • Work in partnership across the 30 Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in the region, ensuring NHS services continue to join-up and offer the best healthcare solutions to patients in their neighbourhoods
  • Invest in flexible workforce schemes, such as a system-wide nursing bank, to ensure improved mobility of staff to work where they are needed

The SYB ICS was initially established as a sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) in October 2016 to join up and modernise health, social care, local authorities and the third sector across the region.

Since 2016, the ICS has secured a total of £129 million, which has enabled it to progress with a number of initiatives to improve regional healthcare services.

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System has pledged to fund the development and integration of digital healthcare technologies, such as through the Digital Health and Wellbeing Charter for Yorkshire and Humber.

This enables partners across the wide region to work together for the benefit of citizens, staff, and in support of industry and research.

Improving local services

Local initiatives include the introduction of digital services in Rotherham for patients and health and care professionals.

The Rotherham Health App, for example, allows patients to book appointments, manage their medication, view test results, and access their medical record on desktop, tablet, or a mobile device.

Meanwhile, the Health Record offers an electronic system for sharing patient health information in a secure way with health and care staff who provide care directly.

Health and care professionals are able to view a summary of a patient’s existing records – such as those held by their GP, hospital or social care provider – and make more informed decisions, while the patient only has to tell their story once.

A further £129 million, which is detailed in the five year plan, has been secured for so-called “transformation schemes.”

Engagement with the public and partners including NHS hospitals, mental health and social care trusts and clinical commissioning groups, and local councils across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw took place to ensure key healthcare priorities were addressed in the new plan.

Sir Cash added: “Through our partnership working with Local Authorities, the Sheffield City Region, leading universities and world-class institutions we want to continue to influence and contribute to the development and implementation of a wide range of local ‘place’ based strategies that are tackling the wider determinants of health, such as inclusive growth plans, housing, transport employment and thriving communities.

“At the same time, we want to ensure that all our local communities have equitable access to a full range of health and care services.

“Our new five year plan recommits our ambition for everyone in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to have a great start in life, supporting them to be healthy and live longer, while aiming to be the best delivery and transformation system in the country”.

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw is one of 10 integrated care systems in England, alongside:

  • Frimley Health and Care
  • Dorset
  • Befordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Lancashire and South Cumbria
  • Berkshire West
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Greater Manchester
  • Surrey Heartlands