NHS England has proposed that the core commissioning functions of CCGs should be absorbed into integrated care systems (ICS) to achieve better healthcare outcomes.
In a new document, NHS England said it wants all CCGs to merge across ICS boundaries by April 2022, as part of proposed changes to legislation.
“[The proposal sits] alongside other recommendations aimed at removing legislative barriers to integration across health bodies and with social care, to help deliver better care and outcomes for patients through collaboration, and to join up national leadership more formally,” the document said.
The paper continued: “Local leaders have repeatedly told us that the commissioning functions currently carried out by CCGs need to become more strategic, with a clearer focus on population-level health outcomes and a marked reduction in transactional and contractual exchanges within a system.
“This significant change of emphasis for commissioning functions means that the organisational form of CCGs will need to evolve.”
The document, entitled ‘Integrating care: Next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England’, opens up a discussion with the NHS and its partners about how ICSs could be embedded in legislation or guidance.
This builds on the route map set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, for health and care to be joined up locally around people’s needs. And it signals a renewed ambition for how greater collaboration between partners in health and care systems can be supported to help accelerate progress in meeting critical health and care challenges.
The document also details how systems and their constituent organisations will accelerate collaborative ways of working in future, considering the key components of an effective ICS and reflecting what a range of local leaders have told NHS England about their experiences during the past two years, including the immediate and long-term challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NHS England said that from April 2021, all parts of the health and care system should work together as ICSs, involving stronger partnerships in local areas between the NHS, local governments and others, with a more central role for primary care in providing joined-up care; and provider organisations being asked to step forward in formal collaborative arrangements.
The organisation has recommended developing strategic commissioning through systems with a focus on population health outcomes; and the use of digital and data to drive system working, connect health and care providers, improve outcomes and put the citizen at the heart of their own care.