Skip to content

Navigation breadcrumbs

  1. Home
  2. Our work
  3. Integrated care

Integrated care

Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) are a genuine opportunity to ensure the health and care needs of people are fulfilled in a co-ordinated, person-centred way that puts the individual in control of their own health. We work to ensure this promise can be realised by encouraging system to shape services according to holistic need and involving the local community.

Our Stance

Our vision is for all organisations with a stake in the health of their communities to work together towards an agreed set of goals, including reducing health inequalities and valuing and building on the assets already in place in local communities. 

These assets must include: 

  • A range of providers to meet the needs of a diverse community.
  • Shared local data and intelligence across systems.
  • Recognition that the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector is a valued partner to the NHS. 

For integrated care to fulfil the ambition of being person-centred, patients and carers must be able to meaningfully shape and challenge local plans for the health and care services they use, as well as their own individual care plans and treatment options. 

ICSs must demonstrate how they have taken on board the views of people with lived experience of health conditions or disabilities, and how they ensure proactive steps are taken to engage communities who are carrying the greatest burden of health inequalities and who are least likely to be well-served by existing health services.  

It is also vital for different sizes and types of VCSE organisations to be able to input into ICS strategy, development and provision, particularly those working with communities who are seldom heard. VCSEs must also have a role in the scrutiny of the strategy’s implementation and outcomes. 

Our Work

We are working with senior stakeholders in NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and others to shape and improve the way the VCSE sector can engage with ICSs. 

Our members tell us that the shift to ICSs is requiring a lot more resource as a result of central functions leaving NHS England and moving into 42 different regions. This means ICSs have to engage with individual charities, and the VCSE sector has to duplicate work across all ICSs. This is a particular challenge for smaller organisations or those with a pure national focus. 

We welcome the ongoing commitment from ICSs to work with our sector but the mechanisms to do so need to be simplified and developed to ensure that VCSEs can continue to influence to make real change for the people and communities they serve. 

Secondly, we are working to ensure that policy is designed to support the integration of care – this is partly through our work on personalised care. We are also engaging with new policy developments (for example in the primary care recovery plan, individuals on multiple waiting lists and the major conditions strategy), to ensure there is a focus on minimising the administrative burden on individuals, reducing barriers between different parts of the health and care system and ensuring policy takes a holistic view of the needs of individuals.

Our Asks

  1. Involve communities: To actively support the importance and principles of integrated care, the Government, NHS England, ICSs and primary care networks must ensure people are involved in both the decisions affecting their care and that of the local community health and care offer.
  2. Engage partners: At the outset of new strategies systems must engage with partners across the ICS including from the VCSE sector, to ensure any changes recognise the diversity of need and provision within ICSs.
  3. Review mechanisms: Too often we hear that VCSEs do not have a clear route of contact into ICSs, so we must ensure the necessary contact information is accessibly and publicly available, with clear indicators of the different ways in which the VCSE sector can support ICSs.
  4. Respond to need: The decision to involve VCSE sector members should be reflective of how the VCSE can support local population needs, and not based on whether VCSE organisations work on a national, regional or local basis.
  5. Get involved: National Voices, as a coalition of over 200 health and care charities is well placed to influence and provide information about the integrated care space. If you are an organisation within the health and care space, and you would like the opportunity to be part of a movement, find out more about our membership offer here.

Work with us

If this is a topic that is of interest to you and you would like to explore how we might contribute our insights and expertise to your work, we would love to hear from you. We offer consultancy and can design focus groups, roundtables, coaching and workshops to organisations who share our vision for more person-centred and equitable health and care. You can find out more here. 

This page was last reviewed in December 2023.