The NHS and its partners in Mid and South Essex have been formally designated an Integrated Care System after developing a system-wide common vision to improve health and care.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has confirmed that the final 13 areas, serving 14.9 million people, will be formally designated “integrated care systems” (ICSs) from April 1, hitting a major milestone in the NHS Long Term Plan.
ICSs exist to improve the health of all residents, better support people living with multiple and long term conditions, preventing illness, tackling variation in care and delivering seamless services while getting maximum impact for every pound.
They bring together the NHS, local government and other organisations including The Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VSCE) sectors.
The Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership has been working towards the milestone for the last four years in a bid to strengthen local relationships and improve patient care.
A total of 42 ICSs, which bring together hospital, community and mental health trusts, GPs and other primary care services with local authorities and other care providers will cover the whole of England.
Announcing the decision to approve the local applications from these 13 areas at a meeting of ICS leaders, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said:
“Partnership working has been at the heart of the NHS’s remarkable response to the coronavirus pandemic and the NHS vaccination programme.
“Now GPs, hospitals, pharmacists, local authorities and community groups have also come together to deliver COVID jabs to more than 22 million people across England in a matter of weeks.
“We have seen what the NHS pulling together can do in the most testing period in the health service’s history.
“The establishment of ICSs across the country will help to ensure that agile approach and can-do attitude endures beyond the pandemic.”
The NHS Long Term Plan said Integrated Care Systems would be central to its delivery by bringing together local organisations to redesign care and improve population health, creating shared leadership and action.
More recently the Government has set out a White Paper which will build on recommendations from NHSEI to remove current legislative barriers to integration across health and social care bodies, and foster collaboration between NHS and local government organisations. This reflects the thousands of views received from every part of the health and care system and the public as part of recent engagement on what local leaders need.
Professor Mike Thorne, independent chair of Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership said: “Our ICS designation is an important next step on our journey as a maturing health and care system and a demonstration that our partner organisations are committed to working together to improve the health and wellbeing of local people, delivering care our local communities and staff can be proud of.
“The way in which we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is testament to the extraordinary work we can do when health, care voluntary sector colleagues stand shoulder to shoulder and use our resources flexibly across health and care to do the right thing.
“As partners we are united by a common purpose to improve the health and well-being of the 1.2 million population we serve and reduce inequalities by making the very best use of our collective resources.”