The NHS in the South West took a significant further step today towards joined-up health and social care at grassroots level, with the approval of four more integrated care systems (ICSs).
The new ICSs cover:
• Bath & NE Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire
• Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
• Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
They join Dorset and Gloucestershire, which were the first parts of the region to be designated. Devon is expected to follow early in 2021.
Each new ICS has demonstrated that its partners share a common vision to improve health and care, backed up by operational and financial plans and by proposals for collective leadership and accountability.
The organisations that make up an ICS – including commissioners, local authorities, hospitals, community services – take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering care and improving the health of the population.
The benefits of partnership working have been highlighted by health and care systems working together in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with NHS trusts, GPs, councils, care homes and others joining forces to meet local people’s needs.
By working together in this way, systems have been able to identify and shield the most-vulnerable, quickly develop alternatives for people who don’t need urgent, non-Covid care, and provide clear messages to residents.
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.
“Approval recognises the systems’ appetite for taking responsibility at grassroots level, so they can respond collectively to the needs of their communities as flexibly as possible.
“The benefits should be felt by local people for years to come in terms of coordinated planning and care.
“Devon is working hard to follow suit in the new year. It’s a large and complex system, so the challenges are that much greater, but we’re confident that the partner organisations will be ready.”
Amanda Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer at 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”.