All 42 Integrated Care Systems are expected to be fully operational by April 2022 but the move to put ICSs on a statutory footing looks set to be delayed by three months to July 2022 according to Health Service Journal (HSJ) reports. The delay is expected to be announced in the NHS Planning Guidance for 2022/23 which is due to be published “shortly”.
The reason for the delay is due to the Heath and Care Bill’s Parliamentary timetable – with the Bill due to start its Committee stage in the House of Lords next month (11 January 2022). If the Lords propose wider amendments to the Bill, it is likely that this will require further debate in the Commons which would leave little time for the Bill to receive Royal Assent by the end of March and come into effect by 1 April 2022.
We know Lord Stevens, former NHS England chief executive has called for (during the Bill’s second reading in the Lords on 7 December) amendments to workforce planning, greater transparency around awarding contracts to the independent sector and the Secretary of State’s powers around decision-making on reconfigurations.
This news will come as little surprise as HSJ last month reported on leaked NHS England planning scenario documents it had seen indicating that NHS England was considering delaying by three or six months. NHS leaders will be keen to have official confirmation of the new date to allow them to fully prepare and plan for the transition.
Readers who remember when the Health and Social Act 2012 received Royal Assent will recall that the new clinical commissioning groups had 12 months before they were created. Under current NHS England plans clinical commissioning groups are due to be abolished and subsumed within Integrated Care Boards.