An Integrated Care System (ICS) brings NHS organisations, councils, public services as well as voluntary and community partners together to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in their area
On the 1 July 2022, the new Health and Care Bill brought Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) into law. This meant that the Somerset ICS has legal status, which includes a statutory Integrated Care Partnership (ICP), and a new NHS body called an Integrated Care Board (ICB) - NHS Somerset.
The four key purposes of an ICS are outlined in the guidance document from NHS England and NHS Improvement. These are:
- improving population health and healthcare
- tackling unequal outcomes and access
- enhancing productivity and value for money
- helping the NHS to support broader social and economic development.
Why is integrated care so important?
Our health is affected by many things – for example lifestyle choices, housing, educational opportunities, unemployment, and poverty.
Integrated care is about removing traditional barriers between services so people can access the support and care when they need it. An Integrated Care System (ICS) brings NHS organisations, councils, public services as well as voluntary and community partners together to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in their area.
By working closely together ICSs have the potential to develop a set of shared priorities designed to drive improvements in population health and tackle health inequalities. They can do this by reaching beyond the NHS to work alongside local authorities and other partners to address these wider social and economic determinants of health.
In Somerset, we have already achieved a lot by working in partnership; this has been strengthened through our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes have been made possible by different organisations, including:
- NHS hospitals
- Local councils
- Care homes
- Voluntary and community sector organisations
All joining forces to agree and plan for local people’s needs.
In Somerset, significant progress has already been made to improve care and provide more joined up services, this means that some of the work we need to do to develop as an ICS is already in place. There are many examples of this integrated working well across the county already.