Update on Integrated Care Boards

On Monday evening, the Health and Care Bill was amended to clarify that there can be more than one NHS Trust/Foundation Trust member, primary medical services provider member and local authority member on an integrated care board, by adding “at least” into the relevant clauses. 

If the amendment had not been made, as we pointed out in our earlier article on this topic, each of those camps would have been limited to a single board member.  This means that those designing ICBs now have much more freedom to create a board that reflects their local vision for their ICB. 

Health minister Edward Agar said, “On the ICBs and ICPs, we have sought to be permissive rather than prescriptive, giving those local systems, within a national framework, the flexibility to deliver what they need to deliver for their local areas, which they know best.”

The Bill has also now been amended to include the new paragraph 3A of Schedule 2, referred to in my colleague Rhian Vandrill’s blog, which says that the ICB constitution must bar anyone from joining the board if they “could reasonably be regarded as undermining the independence of the NHS because of their involvement in the private healthcare sector or otherwise.” 

Saying that “it was never the intention for independent providers to sit on integrated care boards and it is still not,” the Minister added that the amendment was expected “to prevent, for example, directors of private healthcare companies, significant stakeholders of private healthcare companies and lobbyists from sitting on the board of an ICB. It would also prevent anyone with an obvious ideological interest that clearly runs counter to the NHS’s independence from sitting on a board of an ICB.”

The Bill completed its House of Commons stage on Tuesday evening with the "third reading". It will now make its way to the House of Lords before returning to the Commons for consideration of any amendments made by the Lords.

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