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Integrated Care Systems... "We need to take a leap of faith and just get on with it"

In IPC’s September ’21 Academic Partnership workshop, we brought together strategic managers and senior commissioners from adult and children’s local authority social care, public health, and CCG’s, to share and explore approaches in response to the rapidly moving integration agenda.

We considered the opportunities that lie ahead for local authorities as the ICS and PBP agenda gathers momentum, as well as the work of Regional Partnership Boards (RPBs) across Wales.

The workshop triangulated a comprehensive oversight of the key imperatives driving the integration agenda, supported by expert insights from:

  • Fiona Russell, of the Local Government Association who said, “There are plenty of opportunities to take forward, including the partnership working strengths local authorities already have,”
  • Tim Baverstock of Somerset County Council and Maria Heard from the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group who provided practical examples and experience from the perspective of a local authority. They discussed their shared partnership approach to meet improved outcomes for local people.

Key discussion points

Whilst the workshop discussions reflected many of the current and widely recognised challenges facing the health and care system - especially a sense of the imbalance between resources and demand and the impact of the pandemic - participants considered the need for mature and trusting relationships as a key determinant to integrated partnerships.

A pivotal discussion point was around local leaders, commissioners, and staff, "Letting go and letting experienced experts in."

Discussions included:

  • taking a ‘human centric design’ approach to direct payments and social prescribing
  • changing the whole concept to mental health services and allowing people into the system without applying thresholds
  • agreement that there is not one single approach to realising opportunities, and there is scope for local determination
  • firm consensus that it is extremely helpful to hear how other organisations carefully consider the meaning of integrated care systems and partnerships.

Key take outs

The workshop participants agreed the following overriding points:

  • that national guidance was permissive in nature and encouraged local discretion as to how local systems form and work together
  • and as a workshop participant noted, " You can't legislate for relationships" but rather local health and care leaders (within the ICS and PBPs) should adopt an even more open and creative approach to pooling resources for mutual benefit, built on trust, intuition, and shared ambitions
  • furthermore, whilst there are many hurdles to face and overcome (or at least attempted to be overcome) such as measuring success, local authorities and its partners are charged with embracing this freedom to create the right solutions for local people and communities. Tim Baverstock of Somerset County Council advised, “If you think differently, then you can deliver differently.”

Finally, everyone agreed, " We need to take a leap of faith and just get on with it.”

Integrated Care Systems (ICS)

NHS England has set out the next steps for the development of integrated care systems (ICSs) and more details can be found here.

Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and Place Based Partnerships (PBPs) are becoming part of the modern health and care lexicon. New structures are forming, and existing ones are adapting at a time of significant uncertainty, challenge, and opportunity. IPC can support public organisations as they navigate these unchartered waters, drawing on 30 years of expertise.

If you would like the tools and confidence to implement change, then please contact IPC Assistant Director, Philip Provenzano