What do we mean by 'integrated care'?

Dr Justine Hadcroft is a Respiratory Consultant at Royal Liverpool Hospital and Chair of the BTS Models of Care Committee.

NHS England defines Integrated Care as patient centred, coordinated care which is tailored to the needs and preferences of the individual, their carers and family.  An Integrated Care service is one that has moved away from episodic health care to a more holistic approach that puts the requirements and experience of patients at the centre of how services are planned and provided.

With more and more patients living with long term conditions, many of them respiratory diseases, joined up care is crucial to their wellbeing. Traditionally services have been commissioned separately which has forced patients to access them ‘piecemeal’ with little or no regard to their overall needs. Many of these components operate in isolation with no communication between them, leading to gaps or duplication.

It’s simply not sustainable.

Integrated Care is high on the agenda for many CCGs and aligns well with the visions of many Sustainability and Transformation Plans. It is therefore likely to be an important area in the next few years of the NHS’s evolution.

Integration isn’t limited to the joining up of primary and secondary care services. It can encompass closer working between health and social care, physical and mental health, geographical areas and professionals with widely varying backgrounds and skills.

In 2014 the British Thoracic Society set up an integrated care working party to ensure that those with a special interest in - and responsibility for - integrated respiratory health were equipped with the correct skills, training, support and facilities, and that such developments were correctly evaluated.

Following on from this work, and recognising the increased importance of Integrated Care, the Society decided to convene the BTS Models of Care Committee. This multi-disciplinary group of healthcare practitioners is working together to co-ordinate information, examples of best practice, help and advice for those working in Integrated Care or wishing to develop their own Integrated Care services.

The Committee, supported by the New Models of Care Programme on Respiratory Futures, aims to provide a repository of resources of value to anyone interested in Integrated Care, whether already working in this field or trying to set up a service.

We have already commissioned two surveys. The first aims to glean information about existing services; where they are, what they provide and what their common elements comprise.

The second intends to identify opportunities for respiratory trainees to gain experience of integrated care, and to whet their appetite for this as part of their training programme.

The results of both surveys will be published here very soon.

This is an evolving resource so if you work in Integrated Care and would like to share information about your service or suggest how this New Models of Care programme area could support you in your role, please get in touch.


Visit our Interactive Map to access regional integrated care resources, including STP and ICS information, as well as national updates.

Further reading:

Championing patient-centred respiratory care: Consultant-led integrated care in Telford

Changing places: a new role in an evolving respiratory service

Consultant Nurses: reforming health services by working across professional and organisational boundaries

Achieving better integrated care: the unique role of community pharmacists