What is an Integrated Care System?
Integrated care involves collaboration and joined-up working across a number of regional health and care organisations in order to better serve the needs of their local population.
Working across a clear geographical area, an Integrated Care System will include local authorities and the third sector working in partnership with NHS organisations often leading the delivery.
Integrating care: Next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England' released by NHS England and NHS Improvement sets out a clear roadmap for ICSs from April 2021.
With an excellent track record and experience of exemplary partnership working, we can feel reassured that we are collectively – as a system - in a very strong position to move forward with this directive.
An Integrated Care System will have a number of important aims to improve the health of its population:
Improving population health
Tackling the causes of illness and the wider determinants of health such as employment, education, housing which impact on how people not only survive, but thrive.
Improving the quality of patient care
Introducing new roles such as Clinical Pharmacists to support patient-medical relationships, flexible deployment of nursing and midwifery staff (Continuity of Carer midwives), increasing patient access (e.g. GP weekend appointments ), using digital technological and innovations (e.g. virtual consultations for GPs during Covid-19) and networking services.
Delivering financially sustainable services
Joining-up services across hospital sites or GP practices where safe and logistically reasonable for the purpose of better patient outcomes e.g. Hyper Acute Stroke Units.
Addressing health inequalities
Through recognising preventable illnesses – and working in communities to support people to lead healthier lifestyles through behaviour change programmes (smoking, alcohol and obesity).