ICS landscape: planning for the future

Getting ready for provider collaboratives and place-based partnership working

With April 2021 marking the deadline by which all areas in England need to be part of an Integrated Care System or ICS, we look at how the ICS landscape is evolving to reflect the three important levels at which decisions are made: systems, places and neighbourhoods.

ICSs have been described as a system within a system with discussions focussed on ‘place level’ as this is where most services will be designed and delivered. Last month The King’s Fund ran a four day virtual conference looking at the future of place, place-based partnerships and how they can support the development of ICSs.

The context

In November 2020, NHSE/I published Next Steps to building strong effective integrated care systems across England which included options for legislative change to support ICS development with ‘place’ being a central tenet of the proposals.

In February 2021 the Government published its White Paper setting out legislative proposals for a new Health and Care Bill. The Red Thread in this White Paper is the integration of health and care – and at the heart of the changes is the proposal for ICSs to become statutory bodies and as such, take on the responsibility for the commissioning and delivery of health and care services within its geographical patch – and in that regard, the functions of CCGs will be subsumed by ICSs as they take on the health and care budget allocation for their specific geographical area.

The White Paper outlines how each ICS body will be made up of two components: an ICS NHS body and an ICS health and care partnership. The Paper recognises the importance of ‘place’ and the need for both bodies to support place-based joint working. We expect the Bill to provide further detail on the mechanics of this dual structure, including allowing the ICS NHS body to delegate to place level and to provider collaboratives.

Next steps for providers and commissioners

So whether you are a provider or commissioner of health and care services you will be involved in designing a provider collaborative or place-based partnership. Deciding how to respond is key.

While place-based partnerships await further NHSE/I guidance on developing these partnerships, we can support you in those early discussions and help develop some early thinking about future Memorandum of Understandings.

And if you are a provider in the early stages of the development of a collaborative, we can support you. We have experience of delivering IMPACT, the East Midlands Provider Collaborative that went live in October 2020. Our team has produced a useful FAQs resource for other organisations that are about to embark on a similar project which you can access here.

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