Working together to improve health and care for all

You may well have heard that the Health and Care Bill has now been presented in the House of Commons and begins its legislative journey through Parliament.

If voted through, this will, amongst other things, mark an exciting next chapter in our evolutionary journey of joined up health and care support and services in the county.

It will pave the way for the creation of a new statutory ICS NHS Body (Integrated Care Board) for Gloucestershire to come into being on 1 April 2022.

This new organisation, which will fulfil the commissioning functions of the current CCG and potentially some from NHS England, will be responsible for overseeing the day to day running of the NHS locally and developing a plan to meet the health needs of the population.

It will work hand in glove with a strong ICS Partnership bringing together health, social care, public health and wider partners that will develop a broader health and care plan for Gloucestershire.

We hope for a smooth passage for the Bill and fully support the move towards more joined up and devolved decision making and resources that will aid our combined efforts to improve health locally, empower communities, support recovery and ensure the very best care and support when needed.

Gloucestershire has been working in voluntary partnership as an Integrated Care System (ICS) since May 2018. Whilst the NHS and care organisations in the county are core within that arrangement, our wider One Gloucestershire partnership, including service users, carers, districts and the voluntary and community sector has been integral to our success.

It is pleasing to see that as our new NHS ICS Body is established, there will be maximum local flexibility on how together we set up the wider health and care partnership to work alongside it.

This will help us to build on the real strides we have already made using our collective effort, expertise and resources.

Over recent years, we have placed an even greater focus on supporting people to keep healthy and independent and providing more joined up care and support to people with physical and mental health needs in their own homes, GP surgery, community or hospital.

‘Place based’ care and support is already making a real difference to people close to where they live with strong primary care networks in place. There is no better illustration of how this is working in practice and the benefits it can bring than the COVID-19 response in the county.

Again, we are pleased to see that there will be maximum local flexibility in how this ‘placed based’ approach to support and care develops in Gloucestershire in the future.

Through the recent national engagement, we advocated strongly for strong clinical representation and leadership arrangements across the ICS structure.

It’s clear that this is now reflected in the plans to embed clinical and professional leadership at every level of the ICS organisation and partnership with a central role for Primary Care Networks.

We also called for minimal organisational disruption and a smooth transition so we could build on the achievements already made and harness existing expertise – we welcome the employment promise to staff as an integral part of that.

Finally, we welcome a number of other proposed legislative changes. Firstly to scrap mandatory competitive procurements by the NHS and measures to reduce health inequalities and improve public health outcomes that our central to our vision.

Overall, we believe the Bill and proposed legislative changes would enable us to make even greater progress, faster here in Gloucestershire as a leading health and care system.

We are working on a number of communication resources to explain simply the development of the ICS and its priorities for the coming year.

Best wishes and thank you as always for your support.