Integrated Care Systems

The way the NHS operates in England is changing as a result of the new government legislation which has come into effect from 1 July 2022. Here we explain why this is important for blind and partially sighted people and summarise the key changes.

Why the NHS is changing

When the NHS began in 1948, the primary purpose of the health service was to provide treatment for short periods of ill health. Due to technological and medical advances, and changes in society and the population, the challenges that face the NHS today have changed. People are now living longer and with long-term health conditions, and often with more than one condition. This means that people increasingly need long-term care and support from lots of different services and a variety of professionals. These different services are often organised in silos and for patients, this can result in a poorer experience of care because of the lack of coordination and communication between all the different services and people involved in their care.

Integrated care focuses on joining up services to improve the care that patients receive. It aims to encourage the NHS and its partners to work differently by providing more services closer to people’s homes and breaking down barriers between different organisations. For blind and partially sighted people this should lead to longer-term integration of support with eye health.

For example,  at the moment people with a visual impairment might need to go and visit a High Street optometrist for initial assessment, an eye clinic in a hospital for an Ophthalmology appointment, a specialist eye health centre for surgery or treatment, their local council for rehabilitation and mobility support and then back to the eye clinic again for ongoing treatment. Just one eye condition might lead to contact with dozens of health professionals in multiple different settings. With better integrated care, more of these services could be delivered together in one place, closer to home.

Integrated care systems

NHS and care bodies are now coming together across areas to form Integrated Care Systems (ICS), groups of health and care organisations that plan and pay for health and care services.

Following several years of locally-led development, recommendations of NHS England and passage of the Health and Care Act (2022), 42 ICSs were established across England on a statutory basis on 1 July 2022.

This video from The King’s Fund may help with understanding the changes:

Each Integrated Care System is made up of a number of parts:

Integrated Care Board (ICB)

The Integrated Care Board (ICB) is the new statutory NHS organisation responsible for developing a plan for meeting the health needs of the . ICBs will be responsible for taking account of population needs, arrange for the provision of services and manage the NHS budget in the locality. ICBs are legally established from 1 July 2022 and as a result the former Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are abolished.

Integrated Care Partnership (ICP)

An Integrated Care Partnership (ICP)  is a statutory committee jointly formed between the Integrated Care Board and local councils. It will bring together a broad range of partners – including from the local voluntary sector and community groups – and set the strategy to meet the population’s health, care and wellbeing needs.

The ICP includes representatives from each ICS partner organisation and will also include community and voluntary sector representatives and Healthwatch.

Local councils

Local councils in the ICS area are responsible for social care and public health functions as well as other vital services for local people and businesses

Place-based partnerships

Within each ICS, place-based partnerships will lead the detailed design and delivery of integrated services across their localities and neighbourhoods. The partnerships will involve the NHS, local councils, community and voluntary organisations, local residents, people who use services, their carers and representatives and other community partners with a role in supporting the health and wellbeing of the population.

Provider collaboratives

Provider collaboratives will bring providers together to achieve the benefits of working at scale across multiple places and one or more ICSs, to improve quality, efficiency and outcomes and address unwarranted variation and inequalities in access and experience across different providers

You can also read more about the changes on:

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