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Next steps for the Universal Care Plan for London

Eighteen months on from the launch of the Universal Care Plan (UCP) for London we hear from Nick Tigere, Head of UCP Programme, about how the platform is going from strength to strength and what plans are in place for 2024 (30 January 2024).

What is the Universal Care Plan (UCP) for London?

Nick Tigere

The UCP is an NHS service that enables every Londoner who needs one, to have a personalised care plan digitally shared with health and care professionals across the Capital. It can be accessed through the London Care Record, some local Electronic Patient Record systems and via a web portal.

Introduced in July 2022 to initially support End-of-Life and palliative care planning, the UCP helps to ensure that more patients receive the care and outcomes they desire when they reach the end of their life, including being able to die in their preferred setting. This really does matter because ‘what matters to me’ is as important as ‘what’s the matter with me’.

What progress did you make in 2023?

During 2023 increasing UCP usage was a priority and we put a lot of work into reaching out to clinical colleagues across London to promote the platform, update our website based on their feedback and develop new and exciting training resources.

So it is great that there are now over 55,000 living Londoners with a UCP and care plans have been viewed over 290,000 times by health and care professionals, including 83,000 views by Urgent Care Services.  This far exceeds the number of plans created and viewed under the previous service.

More important is what lies behind these numbers. Day in day out we hear examples from our frontline health and care staff about how having access to the UCP helps inform the clinical decisions they take, including whether to treat a person at home or convey them to hospital.

I am really proud of the progress we have made in such a short period of time. So I was delighted that the UCP Programme was shortlisted at last year’s HSJ Awards in the ‘Driving Efficiency Through Technology’ category. It is testament to the hard work of so many people across London.

What have you got planned for 2024?

We have got off to a flying start!! Following a successful pilot in 20 GP surgeries late last year, from last week any Londoner with a UCP plan can view their care plan via the NHS App.

This is helping to give them reassurance that their care preferences are communicated correctly to those health and care professionals looking after them and is particularly important in an emergency when different people are likely to be caring for them.

We are also working to enable patients to create and edit their care plans using the NHS App and expect this to be in place later in the year.

Over the coming year we will also be expanding the scope of the UCP platform beyond End-of-Life and palliative care,  with additional pathways including sickle cell, frailty and dementia.

And of course we want to see even more people using the platform so will continue to promote it to health and care staff across the Capital, with a specific focus on supporting the care home and community sectors.

How will you approach this?

We will only be successful and maximise the potential of the UCP by working closely with our partners.

That is why clinical engagement will continue to be at the heart of everything we do. We need to ensure that what we do works for those at the frontline of care. Over the past year we have worked closely with London’s clinical networks including frailty, dementia and paediatrics. Working with these experts will continue to be a priority over the year ahead.

OneLondon has a strong track record of involving Londoners in its work and the UCP is no exception. Last year we established our People with Lived Experience Group who are currently advising us on a range of projects including the integration of the UCP in the NHS App and developing communication resources for the public. This is helping to ensure that Londoners themselves are centre stage in shaping our work.

A close partnership between the UCP and Integrated Care Board (ICB) teams is essential. That is why we have met with each ICB to discuss and co-create the priorities that will form our workplan for the financial year ahead. This isn’t a once and done process. We will continue to work closely with them throughout the year.

It is great that the UCP is part of the OneLondon partnership that brings together so much expertise to support improved health and care across the Capital. The OneLondon Board will consider the UCP’s 2024/25 workplan next month and I will be able to say more about our detailed plans then.

But one thing is for certain – 2024 is set to be another exciting year working with our amazing partners where we build on the strong progress made during 2023.

For more information about the UCP Programme please visit their website where you can also subscribe to their newsletter.

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