In 2016, NHS organisations and local councils came together to form sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) that cover the whole of England, setting out their individual proposals to improve health and care for patients. Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership is the second largest of the 44 STPs established by NHS England.
For the most advanced STPs, integrated care systems (ICSs) are the next step; representing a more advanced level of integration and system-wide working. From the 44 STP footprints, 18 ICSs have already emerged, meaning around half of the country’s population is now covered by an ICS.
In an ICS, NHS bodies (commissioners and providers), local authorities and third-sector providers each take collective responsibility for the management of resources, delivering NHS standards and improving the health of the population they serve.
When different organisations work together in this way, local services can provide better and more joined-up care for patients. ‘Systems’ can better understand data about local people’s health, allowing them to provide care that is tailored to individual needs. For staff, the improved collaboration can help to make it easier to work with colleagues from other organisations.
The NHS Long-Term Plan sets out the ambition that every part of the country should be an integrated care system by April 2021. In order to mature into an ICS, sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) must achieve objectives in three core areas. These include:
The Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership is well on its way to becoming an ICS, focusing on strengthening collaborative relationships across the system by bringing the NHS, councils and communities together to improve health and care for our population.
This is further supported through integrated care partnerships (ICPs) which are alliances of NHS providers that, instead of competing, agree to collaborate and work together to deliver care. These providers include hospitals, community services, mental health services and GPs and, in some cases, social care, independent and third-sector providers.
The Cheshire and Merseyside Partnership Board is strengthening the system architecture and the effectiveness of partnership governance. Our executive team is working with the nine areas in the Cheshire and Merseyside footprint to bring together the organisations, in order to achieve the Partnership’s mission; to tackle inequalities and improve the lives of our poorest, fastest.
As chairman, Alan Yates highlighted in our first Partnership Assembly meeting, “We believe we can achieve this mission best by working in partnership; with an emphasis, not just on health, but on inequalities – because the Partnership isn’t NHS-led, but a broad coalition of local authorities, voluntary organisations and other vital organisations who enjoy parity.”
To support this, a collaborative commissioning forum is already in place. This brings together the Clinical Commissioning Groups across Cheshire and Merseyside, with the aim to progress the integration of health and social care – and collaboratively commission consistent and efficient services for patients across the system.
We have also established a number of other networks across the system, with the aim to support collaborative working across organisations, enabling leaders to share learning and best practice. To promote collaboration, there is an organisational development programme in place across the system, offering system leadership programme and support.