Ahead of a Westminster Hall debate on accountability in the NHS, we shared a briefing with MPs setting out the need for a less complex regulatory framework for ICSs.
ICS have had statutory status since July 2022 and are already making a positive impact to the health of their local communities.
There are however key challenges facing them:
- A complex regulatory landscape and needs to be joined-up. Regulators need to operate in a way that reflects both the ICB’s role as an accountable NHS body and the role of the ICP as a partnership of equals between the NHS, local government and other partners who all shape health outcomes, while at the same time respecting local governments’ independent mandate to their electorates.
- The need to meet performance targets (particularly reducing waiting times and the elective care backlog) and balance budgets in the short-term risks undermining investment of time and effort in the transformation.
Accountability in the NHS should consider both of these challenges and system leaders should be empowered with autonomy to deliver longer-term change in line with the principles of the government’s Integration White Paper.
To truly make a difference, ICSs need a small number of national priorities with maximum flexibility for local leaders to respond to local priorities.