Joe Tibbetts is the CEO Boilerhouse Media Group and managing editor Healthcare Innovation Monitor. Joe has advised many government, NHS and commercial healthsector organisations on digital communications


iCare, Sandwell's integrated health and social care system, is a success story that must not be ignored.

Sandwell West Birmingham NHS Trust has introduced a new integrated health and social care system, open 12 hours a day and seven days a week, that sees urgent cases within three hours and has slashed the waiting time for routine appointments from 40 to 11 days. All of this has been achieved whilst saving money. Is this simply the best model we have for the future of health and social care?

Sandwell West Birmingham NHS Trust serves an inner city population of about 320,000. Starting in 2012, the Trust has introduced a new, integrated, health and social care system.

Where once they were available to their patients five days a week, the services are now available seven days a week and from 8am to 8pm each day. Now anyone can refer someone for treatment: a neighbour, a doctor or the patient themselves. Sandwell has introduced a "traffic light" triage system. Those who are assessed as being urgent (Red) are seen in under three hours. Less urgent (Orange) are seen within 72 hours and routine appointments (Green) that once took around 40 days to start now take around 11 days.

A staff roll of about 120 is now 350 and yet they have saved money as the changes have been introduced. Sandwell now delivers a vastly improved service at considerable savings, and is now embarking on further changes to accommodate the fact that within a couple of years they will have lost more than half the acute beds in their area and one of their two hospitals.

In this video Head to Head, Ruth Williams, who has been part of the team managing the changes from the outset and is now the Clinical Directorate Lead, tells Joe Tibbetts how it all happened.

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