A new Health and Social Care Partnership is being set up by NHS Highland and Argyll and Bute Council.
Tasked with delivering integrated health and social care services, the Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) will have a budget pooled from both the NHS and Council and will be accountable to both organisations.
NHS Highland Board and the council have both endorsed a joint report from their officials setting out recommendations for planning and delivering integrated services as required by the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill which comes into force on April 1 2015.
The services it will be responsible for delivering will be identified by a shadow integration board, and agreed by the NHS Board and council.
This ‘body corporate’ model of the HSCP means that staff who work for NHS Highland will remain NHS employees and council staff will remain council employees.
The shadow integration board will include representatives of both organisations and will prepare an integration plan for approval by the Scottish Government. A chief officer for health and social care will also be jointly recruited.
A statement from the council this week said both organisations had agreed that a comprehensive communication and engagement strategy would be put in place ‘to ensure there is robust engagement with local communities and the wide range of stakeholders involved in health and social care throughout 2014/15’.
Elaine Mead, chief executive of NHS Highland, said, “I am confident that we will make integration work well in Argyll and Bute.
“We already have a strong track record of collaboration with the council and this move will further strengthen our joint working, and provide dedicated local care.”
Council chief executive Sally Loudon added: “Our focus is on delivering services that will meet the changing needs of our communities now and into the future, and builds on the significant strengths of our existing partnership working.
“This is an important step forward in delivering the highest possible quality of services”