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NHS Chief Sir Simon Stevens has confirmed 11 more parts of England will be formally designated integrated care systems (ICS) from 1 April 2021, serving a combined population of 14.5 million people.

According to NHS England, more collaboration is needed across the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector to help tackle health inequalities due to COVID-19.

The new ICSs include the remaining three parts of London – North West London, North Central London and North East London – serving around six million people and four areas of the South West serving a further three million.

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Speaking at an event for NHS trust leaders, Sir Simon said: “Now is the time to accelerate on integrated care so we have strong health and care systems serving every part of the country. The past year has demonstrated the importance of joined-up working. This will be just as critical as we work together to address the wider social and economic consequences of the Covid pandemic.”

An ICS is a new, closer form of collaboration in which the NHS and local authorities take on greater responsibility for managing resources and performance. They aim to improve the health of residents, preventing illness, tackling variation in care, and delivering seamless services.

By collaborating, ICSs join up care for those with multiple conditions and break down current barriers that people experience to accessing health and social care holistically, improving support for people with lifelong illness and supporting children to lead healthy lives.

Currently, there are 29 ICSs covering more than 35 million people in England, equating to more than 60 per cent of the population. By 2021, the NHS aims for ICSs to cover the whole of England, with 12 remaining parts of the country working to achieve designation.

The 11 new ICS areas are:

  1. Norfolk and Waveney
  2. Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire
  3. Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
  4. Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
  5. Somerset
  6. Birmingham and Solihull
  7. Derbyshire
  8. Hampshire and Isle of Wight
  9. North West London
  10. North Central London
  11. North East London

According to NHS England, each new ICS has demonstrated that its constituent partners share a common vision to improve health and care, backed up by robust operational and financial plans and proposals for collective leadership and accountability.

Amanda Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer for NHS England and Improvement, commented: “In our conversations with local leaders, staff and members of the public, a consensus has emerged for the need to accelerate collaborative working and to remove the barriers that remain.

“We have seen that decisions taken closer to communities give better outcomes, and that collaboration between NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector creates effective and proactive care and support.”

The new announcement of 11 more ICSs builds on proposals set out by NHS England last week for legislative reform within the NHS for more joined-up ways of working across health and social care, with a push towards more person-centred care and pooled budgets.

As part of this, the document recommended that Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) commissioning functions are absorbed to become core ICS business.

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