Currently, people's different needs are looked after by different health and care organisations. That can make it harder than it needs to be for them to get the best care. This is why the NHS wants to bring these things together, so people's care is more joined up with services co-ordinated around them, with new models of care, such as Accountable Care Organisations.
ACOs help health commissioners provide the most appropriate care for their local communities, with more care in and near patients' homes, with meaning fewer trips to hospital. This will include integrated primary medical services, healthcare, and possibly social care services in their local areas. I believe it is right that commissioning decisions are taken as locally as possible, as long as the Government offers effective support, and ensures all commissioners achieve the high standards we expect of the NHS.
NHS England has permitted a small number of Clinical Commissioning Groups to commission ACOs for their populations, under NHS oversight, to trial the future development of ACOs. NHS England will consult on the draft ACO contract before any decision is made to issue it as a contract for wider use in the NHS. The Department of Health is working closely with the NHS, to ensure this process is supported by all NHS organisations.
It is irresponsible scaremongering to suggest that ACOs are being used to support privatisation, or cuts to NHS funding. The NHS will always be free at the point of use, and I believe these reforms will continue to improve the quality of NHS services and outcomes for patients.