‘Integrated care will only work for patients if all services are integrated,’ says IHPN CEO

David Hare looks at the NHS Long Term Plan
David Hare, IHPN chief executive

David Hare, chief executive officer of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), has written a letter to all sustainability and transformation partnerships (STP) and integrated care systems (ICS) outlining his concerns for the independent sector.

In the letter, Hare expressed his and IHPN’s support for the NHS Long-Term Plan’s goal to provide more integrated services for patients. 

However, Hare also expressed his concerns that the independent sector (and other non-statutory) providers of NHS services are finding it difficult to engage in local system working despite providing large volumes of care in every local health economy and having much to contribute to service transformation. 

In June, The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee warned that the NHS Long-term Plan: legislative proposals report, which encouraged greater integration, was ‘too NHS-centric’ and gave ‘too little consideration for the wider system with which the NHS seeks to integrate.’  

The committee asked the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement to ‘be clearer about the roles local government, the voluntary and community sector and independent providers should play in the future of the NHS.’ 

Hare is now encouraging system leaders to establish clear processes so that independent sector and other non-statutory providers can play a meaningful role in local STP/ICS whether through Partnership Boards, care specific Boards such as Elective Care Boards or other arrangements.

He also wants to see local NHS commissioning and provider organisations have a shared view that integrated care must include all relevant local providers – not just statutory bodies. 

‘Integrated care will only work for patients if all services are integrated, not just those delivered by the statutory provider sector,’ said Hare. ‘We believe that the right form of engagement will differ from area to area. But we are asking that all STP/ICS areas have in place meaningful arrangements to ensure that integration is open to the full range of provider organisations. We think it would be a missed opportunity if integration was only about closer collaborative working between NHS commissioners and provider trusts.’