Still no real signs of life in “integrated care systems”

The path towards NHS England’s vision of “integration” of local health care systems is proving a long and rocky one. As we discussed in the previous Lowdown, stubborn Clinical Commissioning Groups in a number of areas are still standing firm against delayed plans to merge them into larger, less local bodies – and now even the delayed North West London merger of 8 CCGs has been obstructed once again.

And despite promises last year to drive forward NHS England’s ambition, set out in last year’s Long Term Plan, of establishing 42 “integrated care systems, to cover England, each spanned by a single CCG, ministers keep postponing their promised new legislation to override sections of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, and give real powers to the new ICSs.

Despite previous denials that NHS England wanted the ICSs to have statutory powers, NHS England chief Simon Stevens has now told the Health Service Journal that he is expecting the government to push through legislation “in the first half” of next year which will give the new bodies a ‘legal form’.

Full story in The Lowdown, 12 October 2020