NHS reforms

24.05.18

Four more STPs handpicked to become integrated care systems

NHS Improvement (NHSI) has selected four more sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) to join the ongoing integrated care system (ICS) development programme as part of the second wave of participants.

The ICS programme – an acronym which replaces what was formerly known as accountable care systems, likely due to the ongoing controversy over accountable care organisations – was first announced last year.

The first wave of 10 shadow ICSs have been making “real progress” since then, with NHSI reporting closer working between organisations and stronger systems-based working.

And now, four more STPs are set to join the group after demonstrating “strong appetite” to take part in the programme, which is essentially a more evolved version of the existing partnerships rather than a separate concept entirely.

Gloucestershire STP; Suffolk and North East Essex STP; West, North and East Cumbria STP; and West Yorkshire and Harrogate STP will be the four new ICSs. They were chosen after demonstrating “strong leadership teams, capable of acting collectively, and with an appetite for taking responsibility for their own performance.”

“They have also set out ambitious plans for strengthening primary care, integrating services and collaborating between providers,” NHSI board papers read.

“Although they experience the operational and financial pressures that other systems do, our assessment is that they are more likely to improve performance against NHS Constitution standards and clinical and financial sustainability by working together as a system.”

Responding to the announcement, which was unveiled at NHSI’s board meeting today, NHS Providers head of strategy Miriam Deakin said: “Patients will ultimately benefit from a more joined-up approach to the way that they access health and social care services. ICSs are an important vehicle for delivering this change.”

But while this is a welcome step, Deakin stressed that there is still uncertainty about the “end state” for many STPs and ICSs and what will be expected of them in the long run.

“We must recognise that each area will have face a different set of challenges and must be supported to adopt an approach based on the needs of their local population,” she continued.

“Trusts also need clarity on how the current approach to regulation, governance and funding of services will evolve to fit this ambitious model of system working.”

Top image c. Marbury

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