IHPN urges local health systems to engage more effectively with non-statutory providers

David Hare, CEO, Independent Healthcare Providers Network

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) is calling on the new integrated care systems (ICS) to step up their engagement with the independent and third sectors in a bid to boost Covid recovery.

In a new report, the IHPN sets out practical steps ICSs could take to involve non-statutory providers, including mapping all providers in their geography, engaging at an early stage to encourage innovation and supporting independent and voluntary organisations to form specific groups such as elective care boards.

IHPN CEO David Hare said: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated just what can be achieved for patients when all parts of the healthcare system work together. And with the NHS now turning its attention to the Covid recovery and dealing with the significant backlog of delayed care, it’s never been more important to utilise the innovation and capacity from all healthcare providers, including those in the independent, voluntary and social enterprise sectors.’

The IHPN also wants to see more robust governance, including clearer conflict of interest processes for managing scenarios when an NHS organisation is both the commissioner and provider of a local health service. In addition, it said more sophisticated performance management of ICSs should be introduced to ensure all providers in a local healthcare system are incentivised to work together and deliver the best possible care for patients.

This could include a greater emphasis on training local systems in performance management, as well as the introduction of more flexible and dynamic processes to monitor the effectiveness of whole healthcare systems, rather than individual providers. 

‘We hope this new report will support emerging ICSs to further build on their engagement with the independent sector, with practical advice to ensure local areas have the right governance processes and incentives in place to enable all providers to work together in the best interests of patients,’ added Hare.

‘We look forward to talking to ICSs around the country about the report and supporting them with their engagement of independent providers to help maximise the sector’s contribution to the NHS at this critical time.’