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‘Whole-system’ emphasis for post COVID-19 NHS as four new ICSs confirmed

Amanda Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer of NHS England, believes the NHS and its partners will ‘lock-in’ improvements to their work by putting whole-system planning at the heart of coronavirus recovery plans.


The comments came as NHS England and NHS Improvement confirmed four new Integrated Care Systems (ICS), which together will serve more than six million residents.


As part of the effort to respond to the COVID-19 health emergency, NHS and local government staff have been fast-tracking new technology, new partnerships and new ways of working, to make services easier and more convenient for residents. ICSs and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) have been central to the coordination and delivery of this response, bringing together hospitals, care homes, GPs and others to plan for immediate and future needs. 


The four new ICSs cover Humber, Coast and Vale, Sussex, Hertfordshire and West Essex, and South West London joins its neighbour, South East London to cover all of London south of the river Thames. This brings the total number of ICSs to 18, plus two devolved health systems in Greater Manchester and Surrey, which according to NHS England means around half of England’s population is now served by such a system.


Amanda Pritchard says: “The response to COVID-19 has touched every part of our health and care systems. We have seen our hospitals transformed, accelerated use of technology in GP surgeries, mental health services and hospital clinics, innovation in community-based services and been reminded of our interdependence with social care, and the critical role of public health. The response to the COVID-19 health emergency has been whole-system working and so must be the recovery.


“As well as locking in the improvements we want to keep, we must maintain the agility that has served the NHS so well. Changes that have been debated for years, delivered overnight with strong partnership working. We have acted our way to transformation and better care, and we must continue to do so.”