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Integrated Care System development - how ready are you?

With the NHS Long Term Plan's commitment to national coverage of Integrated Care Systems by April 2021, we look at some of the challenges this brings and the sources of potential support, including our online ICS maturity assessment.

Integrated Care System developmentSince its publication in January, the NHS Long Term Plan has been the subject of countless conversations, meetings and articles.

The focus on primary and community services as part of a drive towards integrated care and population health has been the subject of particularly intense scrutiny.

The plan pledges a £4.5 billion increase to primary medical and community health services in an effort to relieve pressure on hospitals. It also sets out plans for Integrated Care Services (ICSs) to cover all of England in the next two years, with additional responsibilities being placed on Primary Care Networks. Funding flows will be reorganised to support this place-based model of care, but to date, relatively little guidance has been given regarding the formation and structure of ICSs, suggesting this will largely be the responsibility of commissioners and providers to determine.

This continued focus on primary and community services has been widely welcomed, but delivery will be a challenge. People are living longer, with more and complex health conditions. Health and care leaders are grappling with the challenges of shifting from organisation-centric to place-based models of care, whilst at the same time needing to maintain or improve current levels of service.

Traditional strategies which have served leaders well, which frequently focus on a top-down approach, often experience difficulties in complex, adaptive systems such as those brought about by the LTP.


Support when you need it

We recognise that multiple building blocks need to be in place to create a truly robust Integrated Care System.  In particular, things like having the right workforce and culture are not "nice to haves" - vested interests have sabotaged many otherwise sound plans. 

To help organisations gauge their readiness, we have developed a simple ICS maturity assessment.  It takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and will:

  • Provide you with an outline position statement highlighting areas of strength and considerations for further development
  • Help you benchmark and compare your system with others
  • Provide you with a general framework or "prompts" to support discussions in your system about progress to date and next steps.


The maturity assessment can be accessed here.

If you require additional support in any area of ICS development, our expert, independent team offers complete flexibility and our approach is bespoke to each organisation's needs. The key to our approach is insight and leadership from experienced and proven professionals, bringing a unique blend of strategy creation with hands-on implementation. For more information, please email nsbs.healthcareimprovement@nhs.net

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