NHS organisations will need to intensify partnership working with local authorities and the voluntary sector to tackle health inequalities resulting from COVID-19, the head of the NHS has said.
NHS chief, sir Simon Stevens, confirmed 11 more parts of the country will be formally designated ‘integrated care systems’ (ICS) from April 1 2021 serving a combined population of 14.5m people.
In all, there are now 29 ICSs covering more than 35m people in England, more than 60% of the population.
The NHS aims for ICSs to cover essentially the whole of England by April 2021, with 13 remaining parts of the country working to achieve designation.
ICSs aim to enable health and care organisations to join forces and apply their collective strength to addressing their residents’ biggest health challenges, many exacerbated by Covid-19.
This means tackling health inequality, joining up care for those with multiple conditions, improving support for people with lifelong illness and supporting children to lead healthy lives.
Last week, the NHS announced it was seeking views on proposals to strengthen ICSs, including revised recommendations to the government for putting them on a statutory footing.
The new ICSs include the remaining three parts of London, North West London, North Central London and North East London, serving around six million people and four areas of the South West serving a further three million.
Speaking at an event for NHS trust leaders, Sir Simon said: ‘Now is the time to accelerate on integrated care so we have strong health and care systems serving every part of the country.
‘The past year has demonstrated the importance of joined-up working. This will be just as critical as we work together to address the wider social and economic consequences of the Covid pandemic.’
Amanda Pritchard, chief operating officer for NHS England and Improvement said: ‘In our conversations with local leaders, staff and members of the public, a consensus has emerged for the need to accelerate collaborative working and to remove the barriers that remain.
‘We have seen that decisions taken closer to communities give better outcomes, and that collaboration between NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector creates effective and proactive care and support.’
Photo Credit – Pixabay