What is an Accountable Care System?

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw has been chosen by NHS England as one of the first areas of the country to develop into an accountable care system.

An accountable care system is another way of describing the ambition we have locally, supported by our patients and staff, to co-ordinate care better. In an accountable care system, instead of many separate organisations all being responsible for individual health and care services, this would be more joined-up, with a single budget and a single set of health and care aims for everyone living in the region.

Being designated as an accountable care system means that we will be able to break down the barriers between GPs and hospitals, physical and mental healthcare, social care and the NHS, giving our patients the seamless care they have told us they want.

On a practical level, being one of the first regions to develop new joined-up ways of working means that we can more easily tackle some of our priorities for change.

We will also lead the way in taking more control over the funding available from NHS England to support our plans for change as well as more freedom to make decisions over how the health and care system in our region will work in the future.

Why is change needed?

Since its creation in 1948 the NHS has constantly adapted and it must continue to do so as the world and our health needs change. We have many great people working in our services – and we want to support staff to continue to do an excellent job; providing safe care for everyone in the future.

There have been some big improvements in health and social care over the last 15 years. For example, people with cancer and heart conditions are experiencing better care and living longer. However, people’s needs have changed and they are generally living longer. They want their health and care services in a place and at a time that is right for them. For many, this means care that is provided at home, or in local healthcare centres - not in a hospital.

At the same time, people are waiting longer for treatment and spending lengthy periods of time in hospital when they could be at home, or seen by their GP or at a local healthcare centre.

Things can also seem unnecessarily complicated sometimes. For example, people having to repeat themselves to doctors, nurses and care workers and sometimes having to go to lots of different appointments in different places. This could work better and services could be more joined up and easier to understand and use.

There are some big staff challenges that we need to deal with. Even though in recent years the number of qualified clinical staff in the NHS rose by 3.9 per cent, there are not enough nationally for some services. As healthcare has developed, so has the role of doctors and nurses. Care and treatment can be provided by a wide range of healthcare professionals - not just doctors. Working like this would mean people being seen and treated more quickly.

We’ve got some tough financial pressures too which is mostly down to increased demand on services and people living longer. It’s a good thing that so many people are living longer but it means the way we work needs to change to meet the needs of an ageing population, so they can live well. We will also make the NHS more efficient.

Who decides what happens?

Each ACS partner continues make decisions for its organisation. Collective decision making is made by the two alliances - the Provider Alliance and the Commissioner Alliance. They only do this when there is a regional problem or issue that needs solving for all the population.

Read more about the make up of the ACS here.

How can I get involved?

We know we need to look at doing some things differently and we promise to keep you informed and involved. As we're just starting, there will be lots of opportunities for you to get involved and have your say.

There are a lot of workstreams, all looking at different areas of services. If you would like us to keep in touch about any of them, please email acs.engagement@nhs.net with:

  • Your name
  • Your email (or postal address)
  • Your contact telephone number
  • The workstream areas you are interested in
  • Any special requirements for events

How many people work in the ACS?

There are a number of people working in the ACS. Almost all have been aligned to the ACS because the job they do in their organisation (one of the ACS partners) fits with the transformation work in the workstream.

The only new roles in the ACS are the programme director and lead.