As the NHS continues its transition to Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in England, it is important to identify this structural overhaul's main goals and outcomes.
This blog will discuss the reasons for the shift towards ICSs and how they can improve the patient experience. We also look at the outcomes and steps to take after the transition has been completed and how the NHS can improve its services.
Integrated Care Systems Add More Flexibility
An ICS is a collaborative structure that will bring together providers of NHS services across local regions, including local authorities, healthcare providers and organisations. As of May 2022, there are currently 42 ICPs across England. Once fully implemented on 1st July 2022, it will dissolve the current Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
The transition from CCGs to ICSs aims to provide more authoritative flexibility to reflect the needs of residents in a local area. The change will bring NHS providers, local authorities and voluntary sectors together to plan and organise how healthcare services are delivered.
This integrated structure is being introduced to improve services in each region based on demographics and community needs. This will majorly affect how health and care services are planned and commissioned, improving access to care and reducing health inequalities in all areas of England. ICSs play a key role in the NHS’ Long Term Plan to improve capacity, services and accessibility.
Improving Patient Experience
In the 2021 British Social Attitudes Survey, it was reported that overall satisfaction with the NHS fell to 36%. This was a decrease of 17% from the year before. The NHS' Long Term Plan aims to improve satisfaction and overall quality of service. By taking a more localised approach, the NHS targets growth in several areas, including:
Hospital admission rates: The Long Term Plan includes targeted measures to prevent more than 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases. This also includes better access to mental health services for adults and children. The transition to ICSs will join together these various sectors of healthcare.
This is to tackle health inequalities between services in mental health and social care services. The NHS can tailor its services according to demographics and community needs by working together alongside local authorities and other partners
Lengths of hospital stay: It is estimated that nearly 350,000 patients currently spend over three weeks in acute hospitals each year. A key reason for implementing ICSs is to significantly reduce this number, with the drive estimated to free up an average of 7,000 beds nationwide. The ICS structure will allow local authorities to bring in more measures that target the most pressing health issues in a local area.
Community engagement: ICSs are designed to reflect community needs and area demographics by offering equality of access and delivery of balanced treatment. This also improves engagement and awareness across a community, allowing residents to have more say in what is needed and what can be improved with their local health service. This brings the potential for more focused change and patient satisfaction.
NHS Considerations for Integrated Care Systems
As this is a significant change to how the NHS currently operates, the adjustment may prove to be initially controversial. The move should be closely monitored by authorities to ensure that the shift improves outcomes and meets the targets that the CCG structure did not achieve.
The NHS must prioritise care-led strategies recommended by healthcare professionals rather than solely cost-focused initiatives. The collaboration must work in the best interests of the local area and maintain strong communication between departments.
Following the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS has seen unprecedented demand on waiting lists. The national health crisis has strengthened the case for collaborative working in healthcare services. ICSs aim to maintain this communication and decreasing high demand is likely to focus on the NHS’ Long Term Plan moving forward.
Want to Learn More About Integrated Care Systems?
When discussing the outcomes and targets the NHS has set, it is important to consider how services can be improved. At this year’s HETT Show, leading health experts will discuss how the ICS transition can improve overall satisfaction within the NHS.
Register for your free place at the HETT Show 2022 to find out more.