HCL Issue 10 - Page 14

14 INSIGHT ICSs by April 2021: ‘still an evolution’ How feasible is the switch from sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) to integrated care systems (ICSs)? Valeria Fiore investigates he NHS long-term plan – published in January – described how health and care organisations should join forces and work more closely together, taking collective responsibility for their populations’ health. The plan asked all NHS organisations and their affiliates currently operating as STPs to become ICSs by April 2021. ICSs are systems based on collaboration between NHS organisations, local authorities and the third sector, all working towards the shared goal of improving the T Healthcare Leader 2019 Issue 10 health of their population, according to NHS England. However, the long-term plan gives little detail on how STPs should make this transition. Some experts, including leading healthcare think-tanks, also believe the health and social care systems will look quite different from one another by April 2021. The current system dates back to 1991, when the then health secretary Ken Clarke introduced the NHS internal market, with different bodies for providers and commissioners, a move designed to encourage competition in the healthcare sector. NHS organisations have now experienced more than two decades working in a competitive environment. However, for the past few years, the NHS has favoured a focus on integration, a gear shift that can be traced back to the publication of the Five-Year Forward View. Launched in October 2014, the Forward View made the case for better integration of health and social care services according to a patient’s needs. ‘The speed of transition will vary’ The face of health and social care will change considerably over the next few years to meet the long-term plan’s requirement for ‘triple integration’,