Much has happened over the past four months so now feels like a good time to take stock and see what we have achieved during this time, and how we have further developed as an ICS

Professor Stephen Eames CBE, System Lead and Independent Chair of the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership

This week (Friday, to be precise) marks four months since we made the public announcement that the Partnership had become an integrated care system (ICS).

The announcement on 4th May came at a time when health and social care colleagues in Humber, Coast and Vale were working around the clock to respond to Covid-19, so there was little time to celebrate this achievement.

So while the announcement was, and still is, a source of great pride for all concerned across the Partnership; back in May it was very much a case of, ‘this is fantastic news, but we’re very much focused on our collective response to Covid-19’.

At the time of our announcement I wrote in my blog that we would share stories to demonstrate how far we’ve come as an ICS throughout the year, to illustrate how we have enabled and supported more joined-up approaches to health and care which have made a real difference to the quality of peoples’ lives in Humber, Coast and Vale.

Much has happened over the past four months so now feels like a good time to take stock and see what we have achieved during this time, and how we have further developed as an ICS.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear there were a large number of rapid changes and service improvements taking place to ensure our staff could continue to deliver quality health and care services safely.

Our partner organisations were asked to submit examples of how they have implemented changes and services improvements in response to the pandemic, so lessons could be learned and shared across our health and care system.

The response was brilliant, with more than 330 innovation examples received from across Humber, Coast and Vale. With the help of our Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network colleagues, an insight and evaluation report has been written and will be shared across the Partnership shortly – and it will form a key part of broader plans to rebuild and reset our health and care system between now and the end of the financial year (end of March 2021), and beyond.

Many of these innovations are in our plans for the next phase of our system’s response to Covid-19 (phase three), which addresses how we restore services that were reduced, paused or changed due to the pandemic.

As we began to undertake this work, the scale of the challenge facing us as a system became clear – Covid-19 has widened health inequalities that existed in our communities and there are people in our communities who have avoided health and care services due to fear of Covid-19 who may have needs that have gone unmet.

Talking of inequality, I’m pleased to report that the Humber, Coast and Vale Black Lives Matter and BAME Steering Group met for the first time last week – inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests which have created a new level of consciousness around racial discrimination across the UK and the world.

The group has been set up to develop an anti-racism programme of work which will improve the levels of diversity and equality across the Partnership; and address health inequalities among our BAME communities within the Humber, Coast and Vale geography.

The group is led by Steve Russell, Chief Executive, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, who has kindly volunteered to author one of Partnership’s upcoming blogs to provide an oversight of the group’s aims and ambitions so watch this space.

With one of the biggest challenges facing us as a Partnership being how we manage the growing lists of patients waiting for access to treatment and care, we are working together to ensure that clinical need will always be the determining factor when prioritising patients for treatment as more NHS services resume.

To support and enable this, the newly established Humber, Coast and Vale Clinical and Professional Group has developed a set of core principles and put in place a series of actions to ensure organisations and all programmes of work across the Partnership are taking a consistent approach to prioritisation and validation of patients.

By working together across sectors, geographies and organisations, we can ensure the needs of our patients remain at the heart of all decisions as we continue to respond to the unprecedented events that have unfolded this year.

There’s no doubt that the next six months are going to be every bit as challenging as the previous six, but we should all be encouraged by the fact that we’re all in this together and, as demonstrated throughout the pandemic, no challenge is insurmountable when we face it together.

Leo Stevens

Author Leo Stevens

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