Integrated care is about giving people the support they need, joined up across local councils, the NHS, and other partners including social care providers, voluntary and community enterprise sector and charities.
When the NHS was set up it focussed on treating single conditions or illnesses. Since then our health and care needs have changed. More of us are living longer, and many of us have multiple conditions that require regular, ongoing care. Although our needs have changed, the structure of health and care services has mostly stayed the same, with a patchwork of organisations often working independently from each other.
Health and care staff and leaders have brought organisations together to better meet our needs by working in a joined-up, integrated way.
Primary and secondary care, social care, mental health and community health services have been seeking to partner with each other in different ways to plan and deliver joined up health and care services to improve the lives of people in their area and to reduce inequalities.
What are Integrated Care Systems?
Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) are partnerships of organisations that come together to plan and deliver joined up health and care services to improve the lives of people in their area. South West London ICS is responsible for how health and care is planned, paid for and delivered.
ICSs have four key purposes:
- Improving outcomes in population health and healthcare.
- Tackling inequalities in outcomes, experience and access.
- Enhancing productivity and value for money.
- Supporting broader social and economic development.
We are one of 42 ICSs across England. Many of these have existed for some time (we were originally set up as the South West London Health and Care Partnership in 2016), but the Health and Care Act 2022 made ICSs statutory across the country and gave ICSs new formal powers and responsibilities.
Every ICS is made up of two parts. Integrated Care Boards and Integrated Care Partnerships.
Integrated Care Boards (ICBs)
Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) decide how the NHS budget for the area is spent and develop a plan to improve people’s health, deliver higher quality care and better value for money.
Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs)
Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) are committees that bring the NHS together with other key partners like local authorities to develop a strategy to enable the ICS to improve health and wellbeing in its area.
Other important ICS features
Local authorities, which are responsible for social care and public health functions as well as other vital services for local people and businesses.
Place-based partnerships bring together local authorities, charities, residents and NHS partners to work together to understand and meet local health and wellbeing needs.
Our six places in South West London are the same as our six local authorities:
Primary Care Networks (PCNs)
Primary Care Networks (PCNs) bring GP practices together with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas building on existing primary care services to better meet the needs of local people.
Provider collaboratives are new partnerships that bring together providers like hospitals, mental health services and community services to share resources and improve patient access and experience.
What are the benefits?
Collaborating as an ICS helps health and care organisations tackle complex
challenges. In South West London we have developed better and more convenient services, invested in keeping people healthy and out of hospital and set shared priorities for the future.
As needs change, with more people living into older age and with long-term conditions we will need to adapt the way we organise care. By working with our partners, with a shared ambition to help our communities thrive, we can achieve the best for everyone.
As needs change, with more people living into older age and with long-term conditions we need to adapt the way we organise care. By working together, with a shared ambition to help our communities thrive, we can achieve the best for everyone.
During the Covid-19 pandemic the NHS, councils and the voluntary sector joined forces to help quickly identify and support those at greater risk from the virus:
- People sleeping rough were given hotel accommodation
- Hospitals worked together sharing staff and resources so that more people could get the help and care they needed.
- GPs worked together in networks to continue to offer face to face services for those who needed them whilst most appointments were offered over the phone or online
Read some of our local stories to learn more about the impact of partnership working is having on people in South West London.
Becoming South West London ICS
The South West London Health and Care Partnership was started in 2018 and was formally granted integrated care system status in April 2021.
We have been strengthening the relationships between the NHS, local councils and other important partners like the voluntary and community sector in our six boroughs since the Health and Care Partnership was formed. We have developed better and more convenient services, invested in keeping people healthy and out of hospital and set shared priorities for the future in our local health and care plans for each borough.