NHS England and NHS Improvement have announced four new Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), together serving more than six million residents.
Hertfordshire and West Essex, Humber Coast and Vale, South West London, and Sussex have all been confirmed as new ICSs. This brings the total number to 18 and means that around half of England’s population will now served by this enhanced integration model. The NHS Long Term Plan aims to ensure that all parts of the country are covered by ICSs by 2021.
ICSs are intended to play a central role in the coordination and delivery of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing together hospitals, care homes, GPs and other parties. NHS and local government have been implementing new technology, partnerships and ways of working, to make services easier and more convenient for residents. This has included important initiatives such as mutual aid agreements.
Amanda Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer at NHS England, said:
“The response to the COVID-19 health emergency has been whole-system working and so must be the recovery. As well as locking in the improvements we want to keep, we must maintain the agility that has served the NHS so well. Changes that have been debated for years, delivered overnight with strong partnership working. We have acted our way to transformation and better care, and we must continue to do so.”
Recent partnership examples in the new ICSs include:
- Hospitals in Hertfordshire and West Essex working together to build a vascular services network around a specialist centre with hub sites elsewhere.
- Humber, Coast and Vale developing new roles in its health and care workforce to support existing staff and meet local need.
- The NHS in South West London working with 140 schools and 6 further education colleges to improve mental health support for around 80,000 pupils.
In order to become an ICS, each system must demonstrate that its partners share a vision to improve services for its whole population now and in future, supported by robust planning, strong collective leadership and accountability.