Developing a combined framework for priority setting in integrated health and social care systems

Marissa Collins*, Micaela Mazzei, Rachel Baker, Alec Morton, Lucy Frith, Keith Syrett, Paul Leak, Cam Donaldson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: There is an international move towards greater integration of health and social care to cope with the increasing demand on services. In Scotland, legislation was passed in 2014 to integrate adult health and social care services resulting in the formation of 31 Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs). Greater integration does not eliminate resource scarcity and the requirement to make (resource) allocation decisions to meet the needs of local populations. There are different perspectives on how to facilitate and improve priority setting in health and social care organisations with limited resources, but structured processes at the local level are still not widely implemented. This paper reports on work with new HSCPs in Scotland to develop a combined multi-disciplinary priority setting and resource allocation framework. Methods: To develop the combined framework, a scoping review of the literature was conducted to determine the key principles and approaches to priority setting from economics, decision-analysis, ethics and law, and attempts to combine such approaches. Co-production of the combined framework involved a multi-disciplinary workshop including local, and national-level stakeholders and academics to discuss and gather their views. Results: The key findings from the literature review and the stakeholder workshop were taken to produce a final combined framework for priority setting and resource allocation. This is underpinned by principles from economics (opportunity cost), decision science (good decisions), ethics (justice) and law (fair procedures). It outlines key stages in the priority setting process, including: framing the question, looking at current use of resources, defining options and criteria, evaluating options and criteria, and reviewing each stage. Each of these has further sub-stages and includes a focus on how the combined framework interacts with the consultation and involvement of patients, public and the wider staff. Conclusions: The integration agenda for health and social care is an opportunity to develop and implement a combined framework for setting priorities and allocating resources fairly to meet the needs of the population. A key aim of both integration and the combined framework is to facilitate the shifting of resources from acute services to the community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number879
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2023


  • Decision science
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Integration
  • Law
  • Priority setting
  • Resource allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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