Relationships between providers and commissioners in Northamptonshire need to improve as they are ‘hampering’ progress towards integrated health and social care, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said.

Its review, part of 20 targeted local system studies of how older people move through the health and care system in England, said there were ‘fragmented’ services as well as capacity issues in the East Midland’s county.

Professor Steve Field (pictured), the regulator’s chief inspector of general practice, said ‘poor’ relationships, financial constraints and issues of capacity in both the acute trusts and the adult social care market are ‘significant barriers’ to progressing the ‘transformation agenda’ of integrated health and care, and is leading to an ‘unsatisfactory experience’ for older users.

Although leaders had the ‘intent’ to work towards better integrated care, the regulator said there remains a ‘lack of trust’ between providers and commissioners and said some professionals had told them they felt ‘the system was reluctant to take risks to serve wider system goals’.

The CQC is calling for a greater commissioning focus on developing preventative services in the county and said improving information sharing across health and social care should be ‘prioritised’ to improve integrated working between the two systems.

The chief inspector said: ‘We found that there was a renewed commitment from system partners to deliver improved and integrated health and social care services, and this was supported by a clear strategy emerging from the recently reset sustainability and transformation partnership plan.

‘There is a need for partners to take this important work forward at pace so that older people are seen and cared for at the right place at the right time by the right people.’