Preventing hospital admissions and treatment in the community saves money (Ham 2011) and improves patients’ quality of life (Kodner 2002). Integrated care aims to develop coordination between primary and secondary care, to enhance the patient experience and to increase cost effectiveness.
Outside of the UK, there have been successful strategies in developing integrated care (Øvretveit 2010), however, despite an accepted rationale in countries such as the US (Bevan 2011), it has been slow to implement in the UK. The Programme for Integrated Child Health (PICH), the first integrated child health programme within the UK, aims to educate trainees about the concepts of integration as well as support their active engagement in developing integrated services. The PICH project enrolled both general practitioners (GP) and paediatric trainees and provided a comprehensive educational programme including access to clinical data and mentoring.
However, integrated care is not unproblematic. One important consideration is the blurring of traditional boundaries between specialisms and the sharing of knowledge across them. This study used the concepts of ‘third space’ and ‘blended professionals’ (Whitchurch 2008), to explore the implications for the education and establishment of effective integrated care programmes.