Current understanding and implementation of ‘care navigation’ across England: a cross-sectional study of NHS clinical commissioning groups
Stephanie Tierney, Geoff Wong and Kamal R Mahtani
Background: Care navigation is an avenue to link patients to activities or organisations that can help address non-medical needs affecting health and wellbeing. An understanding of how care navigation is being implemented across primary care is lacking. Aim: To determine how ‘care navigation’ is interpreted and currently implemented by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). Design and setting: A cross-sectional study involving CCGs in England. Method: A questionnaire was sent to all CCGs inviting them to comment on who provided care navigation, the type of patients for whom care navigation was provided, how individuals were referred, and whether services were being evaluated. Responses were summarised using descriptive statistics. Results: The authors received usable responses from 83% of CCGs (n = 162), and of these >90% (n = 147) had some form of care navigation running in their area. A total of 75 different titles were used to describe the role. Most services were open to all adult patients, though particular groups may have been targeted; for example, people who are older and those with long-term conditions. Referrals tended to be made by a professional, or people were identified by a receptionist when they presented to a surgery. Evaluation of care navigation services was limited. Conclusion: There is a policy steer to engaging patients in social prescribing, using some form of care navigator to help with this. Results from this study highlight that, although this type of role is being provided, its implementation is heterogeneous. This could make comparison and the pooling of data on care navigation difficult. It may also leave patients unsure about what care navigation is about and how it could help them.