Government announces independent review into ICSs

The government has announced a new independent review into the oversight of integrated care systems (ICSs) to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes, led by former Health Secretary Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt, currently Chair of NHS Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care Board.

The review follows “record investment in health and social care” and will explore how local leaders can be empowered to to focus on improving outcomes for their populations, including giving them greater control, reducing the number of national targets, making them more accountable for performance and spending, enhancing patient choice and making the healthcare system more transparent.

Patricia Hewitt commented despite the “many challenges”, she is “excited by how much has already been achieved in many different systems, including in Norfolk and Waveney, and is optimistic about what our partnerships can do in future as we respond to the different needs of our communities.”

She added that the review is to focus on how “national policy and regulation can most effectively support and enable local systems to solve problems locally”, and will build on pre-existing work by NHS England to develop a new operating model. Through the review, Ms Hewitt will work with a range of people including colleagues from across the 42 ICSs, the Department of Health and Social Care, colleagues in local government and more, “to help create a system of regulation and accountability based on the principle that change should be locally led and nationally enabled.”

Further scope for the review will include examination of the relationship between ICSs and central bodies such as NHS England the Care Quality Commission (CQC), along with the CQC’s role in ICS oversight.

The review is to draw upon the expertise of ICS leaders, NHS England and other experts in areas including academia and relevant thinktanks. An interim report is due before the end of the year and a final report will be delivered in the new year, which will inform NHS objectives and planning.

Richard Meddings, NHS England Chair, commented: “With both the economy and the NHS facing tough challenges ahead, it’s absolutely right that we continue to find more innovative ways to ensure all our systems are working as efficiently as possible. We also need to continue to provide the tools to help local systems solve the problems they face on the ground – building on the operational model we have already set out.

“That’s why we welcome this week’s announcement of a new independent review and will work closely with its chair, the Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt, to help the NHS to continue to deliver for patients, as well as the public purse.”