Integrated Care System (ICS) Stakeholder Update | 19th March 2021

March 29, 2021 11:15 am

Press release from Together We’re Better.  

Today we have received confirmation from NHS England/NHS Improvement (NHSE/I), that our system will become an Integrated Care System (ICS) on the 1st April 2021.

This is an important step forward, but we know there is still a lot more for us to do and there are a number of development areas that we will need to focus on over the coming months. Changing the name is neither the solution nor the end point. Instead, this is simply a step along the path and we need to continue with our collective discussions to design our approach which provides the real substance behind the ICS.

However, this remains an important achievement and I’d like to thank the many partners, staff and clinicians who have been involved in developing our submission. As you would expect, the application process was rigorous, and we had to provide substantial assurance that we had the initial building blocks in place around planning, relationships and financial overview in order to become an ICS. It was undoubtedly a test of the maturity of our system processes and relationships.

Becoming an ICS was a requirement in the NHS Long Term Plan and shows that our system is ready to evolve into a more integrated and strengthened partnership – focussed on a collective effort to tackle the wider determinants of health and the health inequality challenges that we all knew were there before, but that COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on.

ICSs are central to the delivery of the future health and care strategy as set out in the Governments White Paper ‘Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’. It brings together local organisations and partners in order to redesign care, improve population health, creating shared leadership and genuinely looking to make a real difference to local residents in regards to their experiences of health and care.

We’ve been working as a partnership for many years, so on the 1st April the system should not look that different on the surface – that’s a good thing. The real challenge is for us to use this opportunity to collectively tackle the long-standing issues we face. This is a call to action for us all in order to build on our learning during COVID-19 and make a tangible difference for local people.

The ICS partnership provides the platform and the opportunity to focus on a single strategic vision, that harnesses new technology, breaks down barriers between services and organisations, uses our data intelligently to reduce health inequalities and supports collective ownership of our financial challenge across health and care. This is about moving decision making and resource to as close to the patient/resident as possible and is about building strong and resilient local communities.

2021-22 will be a transitional year, but this doesn’t mean that it will be a quiet one! We await the outcome of the Government’s White Paper which proposes a statutory footing for ICSs by April 2022. During this time, we will be required to develop a detailed transition plan that will show how we will continue moving forward. We know this will be an iterative process, but we want our focus to be on working effectively, as partners, to recover and restore services to meet the needs of the local population. Importantly, this plan needs to be locally grown, and something all partners can give their commitment to. Part of our system responsibility is to also recognise our role in the wider economic recovery locally. This is an opportunity to really consider the role that we play in regards to the wider socio economic development.

A priority both nationally and locally, will be to strike a balance between minimising disruption during this period, versus driving change that adds value to residents and clinicians/professionals – what we already know is that simply doing more of the same, in the way that we have done it before, isn’t going to work. At the same time, we need to support and care for our staff and clinicians as they continue to go above and beyond in the response to COVID-19, gradually working to restore services and deliver testing the vaccination programmes. They continue to be immense and amazing, but we have to protect colleagues as well and support their recovery over the coming months.

Yesterday, our ICS board held a development session, which was an opportunity for all partners to discuss next steps, including building on our common purpose, shaping our aspirations and developing our key outcomes in regards to what success will look like.

We’re committed to continuing our ongoing dialogue with partners, staff and patients to inform this plan and will be sharing more details about how to get involved over the coming months.

I will endeavour to keep you updated at every step of this journey.

Yours sincerely,
Prem Singh
Chair of the Integrated Care System Board


About ICSs
A total of 42 ICSs, which bring together hospital, community and mental health trusts, GPs and other primary care services with local authorities and other care providers will cover the whole of England.

The NHS Long Term Plan said ICSs would be central to its delivery by bringing together local organisations to redesign care and improve population health, creating shared leadership and action.

ICSs exist to improve the health of all residents, address the growth of people living with multiple and long term conditions, preventing illness, tackling variation in care and delivering seamless services while getting maximum impact for every pound. They bring together the NHS, local government and other organisations including the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sectors.

They enable health and care organisations to join forces and apply their collective strength to addressing their residents’ biggest health challenges, many exacerbated by COVID-19.

Health and care leaders have said this will be more important going forward as we address health inequalities, recovery of electives and tackle issues such as mental health problems and obesity.

The Government has set out plans for a parliamentary Bill to put ICSs on a statutory footing, and NHSE/I will give all systems the support they need as legislation takes effect.

To read the full release from NHSE/I see their website.

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