The way that NHS systems work in England is about to change. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will be subsumed into new Integrated Care Systems (ICS). A total of 42 ICS will cover the entire population of England.
What are they?
Integrated Care Systems are partnerships that bring together health care providers and commissioners of NHS services with local authorities and other local partners. These partners then collectively plan health and care services to meet the local populations’ needs.
What is the aim?
The new system will help integrate care across various organisations and health care settings. It aims to improve population health, tackle health inequality, and create a more efficient and higher-performing health service. By joining together the various stakeholders in local health care, the wider social and economic contribution of health in a specific area can be accounted for.
Why are they needed?
The new integrated system will help the NHS adapt to changing health care needs. While the NHS was primarily set up to provide episodic treatment for acute illnesses, population changes, most prominently an ageing population has resulted in a growing need for sustained care for long-term conditions. In addition, evidence consistently shows that social and economic factors, such as access to education, housing and the environment, play a significant role in people’s health. Therefore, a more holistic approach to healthcare is needed to help reduce the strain on NHS services and improve health and wellbeing. With ICS focused on their areas, partners will be more responsive to the needs of the population and local factors influencing health.
When will the change happen?
CCGs around the country have mostly been replaced by, or integrated into, ICS already. However, the change will become statutory in April 2022.
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