Welcome to the first in a series of blogs which will dive into how we’re working to improve health and care services in Dorset. You’ll be hearing from professionals from across the NHS, who’ll give you some insight into their respective fields, and how we’re working together to help you to live healthier lives for longer.

There’s been a lot of talk over the last few years about changes to Dorset’s health and care system, and more specifically in the last few months about our integrated care system (ICS). It’s a lot to take in, and it can be quite daunting, so let’s go back to the beginning.

Health and care systems across the country need to make changes to ensure the NHS can continue to provide good, safe, affordable care, and Dorset is no exception. That’s why we, like every other health and care system in the country, developed a sustainability and transformation plan (STP). Our STP lays out how we’ll make changes to how we deliver health and care to you to ensure services can keep up with demand, safely and affordably, now and in the future.

Because we were ahead of the curve with our STP, and because of the work we did with you through our Clinical Services Review last year, Dorset is now on its way to gaining Integrated Care System (ICS) status.

An ICS is a group of organisations working together and taking shared responsibility for health and social care for local people. In our case, this includes the NHS and local councils. We’re calling our ICS Our Dorset.

By working together and changing the way we work, the Our Dorset partnership will support NHS and Social Care staff to help people in Dorset stay well and provide high quality, safe services when they’re needed. It will bring care closer to people’s homes and look at how new technology and digital developments can transform health and care.

Our ambition is to see every person in Dorset stay healthy for longer and feel more confident and supported in managing their health. Regardless of who you are or where you live, we want you to get the same level of care, from professionals with the most appropriate skills to deliver it.

More of our services will be provided closer to home, with improved access seven days a week.

Some of these changes have already begun – the hub in Weymouth is a great example of health and care staff working together. It gives primary care, community physical and mental health services, social care, the ambulance service, the voluntary sector and local people a central point to co-ordinate care.

By giving everyone a single point of access to care like this, we can help people avoid hospital admissions, support discharges, and ensure everyone is working together with the same information. You can see how this new way of working is already helping improve people’s lives in this video.

There’s a long way to go before our ICS is fully up and running, but we truly believe that making these changes now will ensure high-quality care and sustainable services for you, and help you lead healthier lives.

Watch this space…