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NHS organisations will need to intensify partnership working with local authorities and the voluntary sector to tackle health inequalities resulting from COVID-19, the head of the NHS has said.
Sir Simon Stevens confirmed 11 more parts of the country will be formally designated “integrated care systems” (ICS) from December 2020 serving a combined population of 14.5 million people.
In all, there are now 29 ICSs covering more than 35 million people in England, more than 60 per cent of the population.
The NHS aims for ICSs to cover essentially the whole of England by April 2021, with 13 remaining parts of the country working to achieve designation.
Integrated care systems exist to improve the health of all residents, preventing illness, tackling variation in care and delivering seamless services while getting maximum impact for every pound.
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.
This means tackling health inequality, joining up care for those with multiple conditions, improving support for people with lifelong illness and supporting children to lead healthy lives.
Last week, the NHS announced it was seeking views on proposals to strengthen ICSs, including revised recommendations to the government for putting them on a statutory footing.
The new ICSs include the remaining three parts of London – North West London, North Central London and North East London – serving around six million people and four areas of the South West serving a further three million.
Each new ICS has demonstrated that its constituent partners share a common vision to improve health and care, backed up by robust operational and financial plans and proposals for collective leadership and accountability.
Speaking at an event for NHS trust leaders, Sir Simon said: “Now is the time to accelerate on integrated care so we have strong health and care systems serving every part of the country. The past year has demonstrated the importance of joined-up working. This will be just as critical as we work together to address the wider social and economic consequences of the Covid pandemic.”
Amanda Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer for NHS England and Improvement said: “In our conversations with local leaders, staff and members of the public, a consensus has emerged for the need to accelerate collaborative working and to remove the barriers that remain. We have seen that decisions taken closer to communities give better outcomes, and that collaboration between NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector creates effective and proactive care and support”.
Elizabeth O’Mahony, Regional Director for NHS England and Improvement in the South West said: “We’re really pleased to see a further four integrated care systems designated in the South West, joining Gloucestershire and Dorset.
“It’s a great tribute to their hard work and commitment as they seek to break down barriers, especially during the pandemic. The benefits should be felt by local people for years to come in terms of coordinated planning and care.”
The 11 new ICS areas are:
1. Norfolk and Waveney
2. Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire
3. Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
4. Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
6. Birmingham and Solihull
8. Hampshire and Isle of Wight
9. North West London
10. North Central London
11. North East London