Working together to integrate care
In February 2021, the Government published its policy paper, Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all. Joined up care for everyone in England is at the heart of the plans set out in this document. Two forms of integration are underpinned by the legislation: integration within the NHS to make working together an organising principle; and greater collaboration between the NHS and local government, as well as wider delivery partners, to deliver improved outcomes to health and wellbeing.
The NHS and local authorities will collaborate with each other and statutory integrated care systems (ICSs) will be formed. These will be comprised of an ICS Health and Care Partnership, bringing together the NHS, local government and partners, and an ICS NHS Body. The ICS NHS body will be responsible for the day to day running of the ICS, while the ICS Health and Care Partnership will bring together systems to support integration and develop a plan to address the systems’ health, public health, and social care needs. Both bodies will draw on the experience and expertise of front-line staff across health and social care.
The legislation will enable flexibility for local areas to determine the best system arrangements for them. A key responsibility for integrated care systems is to support place-based joint working between the NHS, local government, community health services, and other partners such as the voluntary and community sector.