FAQs

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What is an Integrated Care System (ICS)?

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a national ambition for all health and care systems (Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships) to evolve into Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).  

A total of 42 ICSs, which bring together the NHS, local government and other organisations including the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sectors, will cover the whole of England. 

The NHS Long Term Plan said ICSs would be central to its delivery by bringing together local organisations to redesign care and improve population health, creating shared leadership and action.  

ICSs exist to improve the health of all residents, address the growth of people living with multiple and long term conditions, preventing illness, tackling variation in care and delivering seamless services while getting maximum impact for every pound.  

They enable health and care organisations to join forces and apply their collective strength to addressing their residents’ biggest health challenges, many exacerbated by COVID-19. 

Health and care leaders have said this will be more important going forward as we address health inequalities, recovery of electives (planned hospital appointments) and tackle issues such as mental health problems and obesity. 

For more information visit: www.england.nhs.uk/integratedcare/

Which organisations are involved in the ICS?

A total of 42 ICSs, which bring together the NHS, local government and other organisations including the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sectors, will cover the whole of England. 

NHS organisations:

  • Cannock Chase Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
  • East Staffordshire CCG
  • North Staffordshire CCG
  • Stafford and Surrounds CCG
  • Stoke-on-Trent CCG
  • South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula CCG
  • Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust
  • University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust
  • NHS England

Local government organisations:

  • Staffordshire County Council
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Independent and voluntary bodies:

  • Healthwatch Staffordshire
  • Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent
  • Support Staffordshire
  • VAST

How is Together We’re Better delivering this change?

We are developing new models of care and programmes to deliver our vision of ‘working with you to make Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent the healthiest places to live and work’. Each programme is focussed on its own aims and objectives to ensure people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have access to high quality, sustainable services for the future. These are our programmes of work:

  • Urgent and Emergency Care
  • Planned Care and Cancer
  • Maternity, Children and Young People
  • Prevention
  • Mental Health
  • Enhanced Primary and Community Care
  • Workforce
  • Digital
  • Estates
  • Organisational Development and Leadership

You can find out more about our programmes, including their priorities and projects, as well as their aims and outcomes.

What are you doing to involve people?

Regular conversations have been held with existing patient participation groups and we have been working closely with the community and voluntary sector to take information out to existing community groups and forums. These will continue throughout the programme, to try and reach as many people as possible, and in particular those who may not be able or willing to engage through traditional methods. 

In 2019 we undertook a 12-week listening exercise to listen to your views about health and care in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and received incredibly useful feedback. You can find out about this and our other involvement work here.

We also work closely with our Local Representatives and the People's Panel.

Our Transformation Programme work was paused in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please keep checking back for more information about how and when we will be coming out seek views again in the near future. 

When will this involvement happen?

This is an important programme for Together We're Better as it will impact on the future delivery of health and care services across the area. Health and local government leaders are committed to undertake this process thoroughly and transparently. 

During this time, partners are committed to providing local people with enough information to get involved and to listen to the views of patients, carers and the wider public. Local health and care staff, clinicians and other partners will be actively involved, sharing their views on the challenges and how they think services could be improved.

Unfortunately, the Transformation Programme work was paused in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are currently looking at how we can restart our involvement work with you, which will help to develop the Integrated Care System (ICS) plan and refresh our Five Year Plan. Please keep checking back for more information about how and when we will be coming out seek views again in the near future. 

What areas are you involving people on?

We are working to refresh our system priorities. Until this has been completed, our priorities for 2021/22 remain: 

  • Recovery
  • System savings
  • Frailty
  • Health inequalities

Clinicians from across the system are involved in all our work programmes to help define the scope of our work.

You can find out more about our previous engagement here

How will my feedback be used?

We all need to think more carefully about how and when we use our local health and care services, and we need to start asking ourselves some difficult questions if we want to preserve the NHS and social care and community services for future generations. However, there is also a really exciting opportunity to design local healthcare so that it becomes an equal partnership between you and the health and care professionals who support you.

We think there is also a great opportunity to start a conversation with you about how we can support you in living your healthiest life – this may be by offering you help and encouragement to stop smoking, by having an honest discussion with you about getting to a healthy weight, or by offering the tools to help you manage your emotional health. We see these conversations as key to offering you a local health and care service that is there for you when you need it most, and that delivers the right care, in the right place at the right time.

The feedback provided to us by patients, the public and staff is extremely valuable to us and we take it very seriously. We want to move forwards in partnership with local people so that health and care is transformed to reflect what is actually needed and wanted by the residents of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. We are eager to listen to not only your feedback, but also any ideas you may have:

  • What have you seen that could be done better?
  • Where do you think money could be better spent?
  • What services mean the most to you and how can we improve them?
  • If more of the care you need is available close to where you live, how far is it acceptable to travel to receive specialist care?
  • What can we do without?
  • Is it right to expect people to budget for their care needs as well as their overall living expenses in old age?

However, it is important to understand that it is unlikely we will be able to implement every idea or action every bit of feedback received. We will take on as much feedback and advice from you as possible, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean all of it can be used or implemented. It may contradict with feedback we’ve had from elsewhere; it might not be a financially viable solution; it may not be representative of the overall aims and objectives of the area. This doesn’t mean the feedback was not valuable, however, so it is important you provide it wherever possible.

How will other partners be involved?

As an ICS, ‘partnership’ is crucial to making Together We’re Better a success. We are the local partnership of NHS, local government and voluntary sector organisations – but we’re also a partnership of people whose lives will be shaped by the actions we take to transform health and care services in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Since 2016, all our partners have been working together to identify areas of innovation, integration and, importantly to deliver better care for patients.

Simply put, we cannot transform health and care without the active engagement of the clinicians and staff who actually deliver it, nor can we develop care integrated around the needs of patients and users without understanding what our communities want and without our partners.

Our programmes of work are comprised of a range of health and care professionals from across the Together We’re Better partnership. Each programme is focussed on its own aims and objectives to ensure people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have access to high quality, sustainable services for the future.

What are the benefits of the ICS? – Can you give concrete examples of how it will benefit the local population?

We are on a journey when it comes to how we will overcome some of the challenges facing us in health and care. The most important thing is that we will do it together – in discussion and engagement with the public, patients and our staff. At a high level though, the main benefits we hope to see are:

  • You will stay healthier and more independent for longer
  • The right care for you will be closer to you and easier to access
  • Receiving treatment will be easier for you as we will join up services where appropriate
  • The quality of the care you receive will be improved
  • Your treatment will be more efficient and effective, helping you feel better sooner
  • Mental health issues and conditions associated with learning difficulties will be treated on an equal basis with physical conditions, and we will treat the whole person, not a series of symptoms.

What does success look like?

If we get this right, together we will better engage patients, staff and communities, allowing us to develop services that better reflect the needs of patients and improve outcomes. We will mobilise energy and enthusiasm around place-based systems of health and care, while also developing the ownership, relationships and governance necessary to deliver.

It will require organisations to work together across organisational boundaries and sectors, and will require changes not just in process, but in culture and behaviour. We are already seeing this positive change through the introduction of Integrated Care Teams (ICTs), which bring together a range of primary, community and mental health services, alongside social care professionals and the voluntary and independent sector to improve the health of the communities they serve. This short video provides a great example of how ICTs are making a difference to peoples’ lives.