The Department of Health's announcement last week of the first 15 integrated care organisation (ICO) pilots was welcomed by the NHS Alliance, which said integration should be a key concern for all practices.
Integrating care around patients' needs has been a cause of the NHS Alliance since its formation. The Alliance hopes the ICO pilots will spread the idea that integration should be "a core value for healthcare."
"Integration should not begin and end with the ICO pilots," said Dr Michael Dixon, NHS Alliance Chairman (pictured). "This must now be something that every PCT, practice-based commissioner and practice should think about in developing new services.
"Indeed, for inventive PCTs, practice-based commissioners and GP practices, having time to develop really radical proposals outside the confines of the rather demanding application system for the ICO pilots may be an advantage."
Dr Dixon added: "We need organisations and clinicians to start integrating, and then see if change in structure would help towards further integration.
"It is important that innovators in primary care have the flexibility to develop in unpredicted ways, as others should be able to outside the pilot system".