Local health and care services are changing to meet local needs.
From July 1 each part of the country will have what is known as an Integrated Care System (ICS) – partnerships of organisations that come together to plan and deliver joined up health and care services to improve the lives of people in their area.
In Norfolk and Waveney, we have already achieved a lot by working in partnership; this has been strengthened through our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes have been made possible by different organisations – NHS hospitals, GPs, mental health and community health services, local councils, care homes and social workers, voluntary and community organisations and others – joining forces to agree and plan for local people’s needs.
As a result of the new Health and Care Act, from July 1 the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS) will have legal status and will include a statutory Integrated Care Partnership (ICP), and a new NHS body called NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB). NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB will replace NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). As well as taking on the existing responsibilities of the CCG, the new ICB will be accountable for the performance and finances of the NHS across Norfolk and Waveney – a total budget of £2 billion a year.
Known as NHS Norfolk and Waveney, the organisation will have a very different role to the existing CCG – helping to bring organisations together, working together, removing traditional barriers and more. The organisation will be part of the Norfolk and Waveney ICS, working with partners in local government, the voluntary sector and others and helping the NHS to support broader social and economic development and tackle inequalities in health outcomes.
Norfolk and Waveney ICP will also be established as a formal alliance of partners with a role in improving the health and wellbeing of our residents. Together the ICP will be responsible for agreeing an integrated care strategy for improving the health care, social care and public health across the whole of Norfolk and Waveney. The Norfolk and Waveney ICP will bring together the NHS, local government, the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector and other partners to focus on prevention, wider social and economic factors affecting people’s health and reducing health inequalities.
Rt Hon, Patricia Hewitt, Chair of the Norfolk and Waveney ICS and Chair-designate of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) said: “There is nothing more important than our own and our family’s health. It’s why, as a country, we treasure the NHS, social care services and its dedicated staff. But vital though it is, the NHS only accounts for a fraction of our physical and mental health and wellbeing. All the rest depends on other things: our environment – whether we have decent work, enough money, close family and friends, a warm home, clean air – and our own lifestyles.
“The development of our Integrated Care System is a unique opportunity to bring together the many different partners who support the health and wellbeing of Norfolk and Waveney’s almost 1.1 million residents: the staff and organisations working in the NHS and social care; local government with its responsibilities for public health, social care, housing, leisure and the environment; the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; and many others in the public and private sectors.
“Although we started working together well before the pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccination programme showed how our GPs, nurses and other staff in primary and community care could work together with their local council, community and faith groups, mobilising volunteers and drawing on the support of the wider system to create one of the most successful vaccination schemes in the country. That local approach will be the foundation of our Integrated Care System, supported by health and wellbeing partnerships that bring together local government with the voluntary sector, the NHS and other key partners.
“Just as local people know best what their community needs if they are to flourish, each of us is the expert in our own lives. And all of us have a responsibility for our own health and wellbeing. So our Integrated Care System will have at its heart a constant process of listening to people, learning from their experience and acting on what we hear.
“We now have a unique opportunity to build on what we’ve achieved, to tackle the backlog of waiting lists left by the pandemic and to transform and integrate care around the needs of people, families and communities. By working together, we can help people lead longer, healthier, happier lives.”
Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive Officer-designate of NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB, said: “In Norfolk and Waveney our NHS organisations, councils, public services and voluntary and community partners are working much more closely together. We are joining up to tackle all the things that affect our health and wellbeing, listen to the priorities of our communities, local people and patients and tackle some of the biggest challenges we are all facing.
“This is a new and exciting way of working, creating a genuine partnership that will make a positive difference to local people and help join up health and social care. This is the culmination of many years of effort to build partnership working across the NHS, local authorities, the third sector and patient groups.”
Cllr Bill Borrett, Chair-designate of the Norfolk and Waveney ICP, said: “Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic we saw just how vital it is that all the organisations in the health and care sector work together to meet the needs of the people of Norfolk and Waveney. Each part of the system is staffed by incredibly hard working, dedicated people, but if we don’t make sure their work is coordinated across the board we won’t get the best results for our communities.
“The new ICS is the first step towards a more wide ranging, holistic approach to health and social care, that our residents expect and deserve. I look forward to creating a system where the whole process, from the first GP appointment to the long term care package, gives people consistent, informed support that doesn’t require them to spend hours answering the same questions over and over to different organisations. There’s a lot of work for the ICS to do, but that work has already started and will ensure that people across Norfolk and Waveney will receive health and care services that meet their needs across the board.”
Alex Stewart, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: “On behalf of Norfolk and Waveney patients, we welcome anything that brings the varied areas of health and social care together. Time and time again, people feel that different people, services and departments do not talk to each other, care is fragmented, and patients and their families have to repeat their experiences over and over again.
“It is encouraging that the aim of this new system is to ensure health and social care works more closely together and we will do all we can to help with this process ensuring ICS leaders are aware of what patients, their loved ones and carers feel about how they are looked after across Norfolk.”