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Government Takes Action to Strengthen Local Care Systems

The government has committed to a number of measures to support integrated care systems in response to two key reports.


  • Government publishes response to reviews on integrated care systems

  • National targets to be reviewed and streamlined to enable local health and care systems to focus on improving the health of local people

  • More effective care systems could help to cut waiting lists


Responding to the Hewitt Review which reported its findings on 4 April and the recent Health and Social Care Select Committee (HSCC) Inquiry into the workings of the local health and care systems, the government reaffirmed its support for integrated care systems.


In its response, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) outlines the steps it will take working with NHS England and local health and care systems, to support learning and improvement and join up care for patients and communities. As part of this the department will review and streamline national targets to ensure that systems are able to focus on improving health for their populations.


In line with the recommendations of the reviews, the government has also committed to:

  • Continue supporting local systems to adapt to NHS England’s new operating framework, which lays out the new roles NHS England, Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and NHS providers will play in the wider health and care system

  • Work with NHS England, local authorities and local health and care services to develop better information around funding for prevention services to inform future investment decisions

  • Provide greater certainty over budgets for local health and care systems, by working to ensure reporting for small in-year funding pots is proportionate, freeing up time for planning and delivery of health and care to local people

The actions from the government’s response will support health and care systems to be more effective, making them a vital tool for improving the speed at which people will receive care in their local areas and in some cases reducing their need to be placed on an NHS waiting list where community support is available.


Government will be looking to take these commitments forward over the coming months, working with national partners and systems.


Minister for Care Helen Whately said:

Integrated care systems are already making a difference by bringing together local NHS organisations along with social care and the voluntary sector. We know that joined up care benefits patients and that’s exactly what ICSs are there to provide.
We have listened to the reports and the actions we’re going to take, like reviewing how we reduce admin burdens on local systems, will build on the excellent work that ICSs are already doing.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said:

Integrated care systems have the power to change the way the NHS provides care for people while working alongside local government to ensure people live healthier lives. Health systems across the country are already making a real impact and we will continue to support local areas to improve outcomes for patients.

Integrated care systems bring together NHS, local government, social care providers, charities and other partners to deliver on four goals:

  • Improving outcomes in population health and healthcare

  • Tackling inequalities in outcomes, experience and access

  • Enhancing productivity and value for money

  • Helping the NHS support broader social and economic development

Each ICS has an integrated care board that includes representatives from local authorities, primary care and NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, who make decisions on commissioning health and care services in their local areas.


The Health and Social Care Committee launched its inquiry into integrated care systems in July 2022. Subsequently, the Health and Social Care Secretary commissioned Rt. Hon. Patricia Hewitt to lead a separate, independent review in November 2022, to examine how the oversight and governance of these systems can best enable them to succeed.


Both reviews covered ICSs in England including considering the NHS targets and priorities for which ICBs are accountable, including those set out in the government’s mandate to NHS England.


Drawing on the insights of leaders from across the NHS, local government, social care providers, the charitable and the voluntary and social enterprise sectors, the Hewitt review looked at how best to empower local leaders to focus on improving outcomes for their populations.


Background

  • Government response to Hewitt and HSCC reviews on Integrated Care Systems: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-the-hscc-report-and-the-hewitt-review-on-integrated-care-systems

  • Each ICS has an integrated care board (ICB), a statutory organisation responsible for developing a plan for meeting the health needs of the population, managing the NHS budget and arranging for the provision of health services in the ICS area. ICBs include representatives from local authorities, primary care and NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts.

  • Each ICS also has an integrated care partnership (ICP) that brings together a broad alliance of partners concerned with improving the care, health and wellbeing of the population. The ICP is responsible for producing an integrated care strategy on how to meet the health and wellbeing needs of the population in the ICS area.

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