NHS reorganisation update: ICS on statutory footing by April 2022

Integrated Care Systems are to be given a ‘legal form’ from spring 2022 if new legislation comes forward in the early part of 2021 according to comments made by Sir Simon Stevens at this week's NHS Reset Conference.

This announcement dovetails with the Government’s commitment to legislation in its Busting bureacucracy document published on 24 November 2020. It says that the Department for Health and Social Care “will bring forward legislative reform to reduce bureaucracy and promote collaboration across the health and care system…”. It also commits to legislation to make procurement more “flexible” building on the NHS Long Term Plan’s proposals for changes to legislation.

Here’s what the Department has to say on legislation:

“DHSC will bring forward legislative reform to reduce bureaucracy and promote collaboration across the health and care system, working with the NHS. The options will build on previous NHS recommendations to remove the two current procurement regimes which apply to clinical healthcare services and replace them with a new procurement regime, alongside numerous changes to the roles of competition and the national tariff within the NHS.”

“NHSE/I will shortly be consulting on how a new procurement regime would operate. This will take into account the views of local government, local commissioners, providers, patients and the public to explore future legislation that streamlines the current procurement rules, reduces the need for unnecessary competitive tendering and reduces uncertainty for providers, freeing up NHS and local authority time and resources.”

CCG mergers driving the integration agenda

Against this background we have seen a tranche of CCG mergers take place across England as they move towards the NHS Long Term Plan’s vision of ‘typically’ just one CCG per ICS area. As CCGs reduce in number, but become larger in size, we expect them to take on a more strategic role. We see CCGs being central to delivering place-based care and ensuring providers are ‘doing the right thing’ for their local population.

Do get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the issues here or require support with your merger process – we have experience of supporting providers and CCGs in this process.

We will report back when we have sight of the proposals for legislation but its timing remains uncertain.

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