A central keystone component of Scotland’s ambition to build an Integrated Health and Social Care system is the first devolution of some Social Security powers.
The Scotland Act 2016 devolves 11 services notably powers over welfare benefits and employment support, covering 1.4 million people and accounting for £3.3 billion.
The technology strategy for implementing this policy is documented here, detailing:
- Audit Scotland describes it as an exceptionally complex task. Already key challenges have included claims the Scottish Government is under-prepared and has not accurately estimated the required costs.
- The new agency will be one of the largest in Scotland, employing at least 1,500 staff once all services are deployed.
- Inter-dependency with the existing DWP systems will be an ongoing constant as social services are delivered by both Scottish and UK governments, legacy systems that are decades old.
- An imperative to reuse before buy or build, and to adopt a Cloud First approach, making use of existing infrastructure such as the SCOTS Connect desktop, PSN and SWAN services.
- Cloud architecture principles will be utilized notably a loosely coupled, commodity approach and infrastructure auto-scaling and self-healing.
A keynote section is 9 – the Architecture Approach.
This includes 9.1, a Business Architecture Logical view of the various Capabilities required to deliver the services, such as Evidence Capture, Benefit Assessment, Payment Calculation and Claim Management, built atop common service building blocks such as Identity and Validation and API integration.
9.2 defines the most significant of the challenges, an integration framework that enables a Case Management System for claims processing, achieved via the SG SSA Enterprise hub, made up of APIs, adaptors and messaging gateways, facilitating integration with partners such as the DWP, HMRC and Local Authorities among many others.
The nature of the challenge is explained through recent reports from the Auditor General highlighting how a lack of achieving this type of integration has been the primary thorn in the side of achieving an integrated sector thus far.
Local Government integration: CareFirst
An example of the type of vendor application that must be connected is CareFirst from OLM Systems, a popular solution for social work case management implemented across numerous Scottish Local Authorities, such as South Ayrshire.
For devolved social security to achieve the overall ambition of a Scottish Integrated Health and Social Care system, capable of tackling key issues such as reducing poverty, it will require an Integrated Case Management Model that spans and unites all of these many different legacy technologies into a single, holistic environment that supports innovative new service delivery models.