Mark Allen Healthcare, British Journal of Community Nursing, 5(14), p. 202-206
Policies in long term conditions care continue to develop rapidly in England. Currently there is a focus on the integration of services and enabling patient and carer choice. Integration of care across disciplines and services is complex and community nursing services are commonly central to reorganization processes in long term condition care. This paper presents the findings of a mapping of the evidence on integration in long term condition services. Literature on horizontal integration including integrated teams will first be discussed, followed by an exploration of the evidence on vertical integration exemplified by integrated care pathways and disease management programmes. As a relatively recent service innovation, the mapping found a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of integration in long term conditions. Furthermore, the paper highlights the potential tension between vertical integration structures such as care pathways and the patient choice and empowerment agenda in long term conditions.