Independent sector ‘most excluded’ from local integrated care systems

Nurse taking care of an old woman

Independent and voluntary sector providers are the least likely to be involved in local integrated health and care systems (ICSs), according to research by the NHS Confederation.

Its survey of senior healthcare leaders found that fewer than one third (32%) of respondents felt independent and voluntary providers were ‘fully engaged’ in ICSs, which the Confederation warned is undermining the goal of joined-up local service planning.

A similar proportion felt primary and social care providers were fully engaged with integrated models of care, the Confederation’s Letting local systems lead report said.

Meanwhile, respondents felt that 72% of NHS providers and 81% of commissioners were fully participating in the work of local ICSs or sustainability and transformation partnerships.

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said: ‘This latest report from the NHS Confederation is a stark reminder that, while the ambition to integrate care is absolutely the right one, the benefits for patients’ risk getting lost if the only people ‘around the table’ are public sector providers.

‘Unless there is meaningful partnership working between all parts of the health and care system, the NHS risks stifling potential solutions which could transform patient care, locking out existing system partners who are key to genuine care coordination for patients and new system partners who can bring solutions to longstanding problems,’ he said.

The findings have been published ahead of the NHS’ long-term plan which is expected to report this month.

The Public Accounts Committee recently told the government that the long-term plan must address barriers to integration in the country and better support the rollout of new models of care.

It said the adoption of NHS vanguards has been slow and that previous governments had failed to make joined-up health and care provision work in the country despite 20 years of mooting plans.