ICSs are partnerships bringing NHS organisations together with local authorities and other partners to plan and deliver joined up care which better meets the needs of their population.
Since the emergence of COVID-19, health and care organisations have been working even more closely together. For example, health and care teams have moved into shared offices to form community coordination centres, working ever more closely with GPs and other local primary care colleagues. These centres have created a simple referral process to ensure people’s needs are met quickly by the right health or care professional, making the best possible use of our shared workforce.
John Govett, independent chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Health and Care Partnership said: “This is an historic day for all those who live in, work and visit Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. We have been talking about joining up health and care for years.
“Following a robust assessment by NHS England and Improvement, becoming an ICS is a demonstration that our organisations are demonstrably putting aside their individual interests and working together to improve the health and wellbeing of local people, delivering care our local communities and staff can be proud of, and as a result delivering better value for every pound we receive.
“Our ICS designation is an important step on our journey as a maturing partnership system working together, where our focus is on better patient pathways that span the services of all our partners as needed, and also the need for better preventative services.”
Councillor Adam Paynter, chair of the Cornwall Health and Wellbeing Board and deputy leader of Cornwall Council said: “The way in which we have responded to the pandemic is testament to the extraordinary work we can do when health and council colleagues stand shoulder to shoulder. We know that local authorities are well placed to address many of the issues that impact on people’s health, such as housing, education and employment, and we are delighted that our local partnership has put so much effort into ensuring our health and wellbeing strategy is the foundation for local health and care plans. We also know, whether we are supporting the frail, elderly, children with mental health problems or people with learning disabilities, local families rely on us delivering joined up care across organisations, and our designation as an ICS demonstrates how far we have come in this regard.”
Phil Confue, chief executive of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and ICS system lead, said: “When we set out on our journey to become an ICS, there were significant challenges across our health and care system. We have tackled these issues together. Of course, we still have challenges, but we have a plan to address these in partnership. The way in which we have worked during the pandemic is testament to our determination to use our resources flexibly across health and care to do the right thing. There are numerous examples of where together we have delivered real improvements and made investments which will benefit people now and in future. Much closer working with GPs has enabled us to deliver service change which is tailored to the needs of local communities.”
Recent developments have included the opening of the Sowenna unit, providing inpatient mental health treatment for young people in county for the first time, realising Cornwall’s ambition to provide centres of excellence. Other projects already underway include a new women and children’s centre due to open at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in 2024 to further drive new models of care for paediatrics, neonatal, maternity and gynaecology care, and provide another centre of excellence for family and children’s health. Early investment has also been received into services to support people over the age of 65 as a result of confidence in the way partners are already working together. This will help support older people in their own homes and avoiding them unnecessarily going into hospital.
A specialist mental health nurse has been appointed on the Isles of Scilly, where there are also plans to redevelop the hospital care home and GP surgery into a combined health and care hub.
Dr Iain Chorlton, chair of NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and a local GP said: “One of the most exciting developments from our new ways of working together is the way GPs are increasingly seen as the local leaders of our health and care services. Nowhere has this been more evident than in our response to COVID. Indeed, local GP colleagues are now taking another step forward and providing even more care around care homes. The input of GPs means we have a system leadership team connected to grass roots frontline delivery and local communities where GPs and their health and care colleagues are working with voluntary sector partners and Healthwatch. All partners are united by a common vision to improve the health and well-being of the population of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and reduce inequalities, making the very best of our collective resources.”
Councillor Robert Francis, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly welcomed today’s announcement, and said: “The Isles of Scilly are very much seen as part of the local health and care family, and I cannot speak highly enough of the efforts made over the last few months to ensure we have all the support and resources we need to keep islanders safe during the pandemic as well as our future recovery plans for an innovative, integrated estate, service and workforce on the islands which precisely symbolises the holistic approach we take in developing the health and care system in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.”
Helen Boardman, chief executive of the Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum added: “We have a vibrant, diverse and dedicated voluntary sector across Cornwall, which is making a significant contribution to supporting people with their health and wellbeing needs. We are delighted with the way in which the health and care partnership has embraced our engagement as part of the system leadership team. Our involvement, underpinned by close connection to local communities means we can ensure the work of the partnership is grounded in local needs and views, and I am very excited at the potential this health and care partnership has already demonstrated to make a real difference.”
Elizabeth O’Mahony, NHS England and NHS Improvement South West regional director, said: “We’re really pleased to see a further 4 integrated care systems designated in the south west, joining Gloucestershire and Dorset. It’s a great tribute to their hard work and commitment as they seek to break down barriers, especially during the pandemic. The benefits should be felt by local people for years to come in terms of coordinated planning and care.”