Integrated Care in Somerset
On the 1 July the Health and Care Act 2022 brought Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) into law. This formalises the arrangements for NHS organisations, local councils and other partners in a defined geographical area to work together to deliver more joined up services, tackle inequalities and improve the health of the population.
What is an Integrated Care System (ICS)?
An Integrated Care System (ICS) brings together NHS organisations, local councils, and wider partners in a defined geographical area to deliver more joined up approaches to improving health and care outcomes.
ICSs remove barriers between organisations to enable the delivery of better, more joined up care for local communities. ICS partners share a common vision to improve health and care, backed by robust operational and financial plans, collective leadership and accountability.
Our health is affected by many things – for example, lifestyle choices, housing, educational opportunities, unemployment, and poverty. ICSs have the potential to drive improvements in population health and tackle health inequalities by reaching beyond the NHS to work alongside local authorities and other partners to address these wider social and economic determinants of health.
An ICS is made up of two key entities: an Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) and an Integrated Care Board (ICB) – more detail on these below.
What is an Integrated Care Partnership (ICP)?
The Health and Care Act 2022 requires all ICBs and upper-tier local authority councils that fall within an area of the ICB to establish an ICP. For us, this takes the form of a statutory committee (that meets in public), established jointly by the Somerset ICB and Somerset County Council.
As the Somerset ICB works with Somerset County Council on the same geographical footprint, we have brought our ICP together with our Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board so that they meet at the same time, in the same place, with a common agenda.
You can find details of upcoming meetings, agendas and papers on Somerset County Council’s website.
These aligned arrangements will foster greater integration across health, care, public health, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, together with other public sector partners and public voices to facilitate cooperation and collaboration to improve health and care across the population of Somerset.
The primary purpose of the ICP is to prepare, maintain and publish a strategy (an “Integrated Care Strategy”) setting out how the assessed health and care needs for the population of Somerset are to be met by the functions of the partner organisations in the Somerset ICS.
Our health and care community
We’ve already made significant progress in Somerset over the last few years 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.
The move to integrated care gives us the opportunity to really make a difference for our residents and communities. Working together in partnership we can deliver huge benefits to the health and care system and will improve the health and wellbeing of Somerset’s residents.
Somerset ICS Development
In Somerset, we have already achieved a lot by working in partnership; this has been strengthened through our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are just a few examples of successful partnership working in Somerset:
- The Somerset Integrated Digital e-Record (SIDeR), our shared care record system.
- Long Covid-19 recovery service operating in primary care settings
- Redeployment of staff to support frontline health and care workers during Covid-19
- Rapid roll out of the Covid-19 vaccinations
- Mutual aid to support care homes in accessing equipment
- 24/7 access to the crisis mental health support line ‘Mindline’
- Transforming hospital discharge pathways and reducing delays
- Launching our crisis safe spaces in four locations in Somerset
- Transforming urgent care through ‘Think 111 First’
- Partnership working with local VCSE organisations to improve support to vulnerable groups
- Fit for my Future community engagement on the early thinking for neighbourhood and community services in Somerset
- Fit for my Future consultation on the future location of inpatient mental health facilities in Somerset.
These changes have been made possible by different organisations – NHS hospitals, GPs, councils, care homes, commissioners, voluntary and community organisations and others – joining forces to agree and plan for local people’s needs.