Getting the balance right as we face the challenges of an emergent ICB

It is only eight days until the NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) is formally established and holds its first official meeting of the board.

One of 42 Integrated Care Systems, our ICB will become a key part of the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, replacing Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) as the statutory organisation with responsibility for NHS functions and budgets.

Timely, then that I attended the NHS Confederation Expo in Liverpool last week. It’s a huge conference with numerous speakers and opportunities for learning. I was particularly interested to hear what the most senior leaders of the NHS chose to say and in particular their view around the emergent ICSs. My sense is that great optimism surrounds the launch of the ICSs, with genuine commitment to new ways of working, ever more closely in partnership with others.

Many of the themes covered at the conference are those which preoccupy all of us too – how can we deliver care to our populations which is focused on overall population health needs and bridging the inequalities in health? How can we be smart with digital development and the use of data? What kind of new approaches (short, medium and long term) can we develop to improve our recruitment and retention of staff? How can we ensure that our leadership of health and care is world class? I assure you these are the issues that our ICB will be working on.

The conference explored the ‘risks’ for ICSs too – in particular, how to ensure that the pressing ‘here and now’ issues we all face don’t dominate the work of the ICS, overshadowing the vital strategic priorities of integration focussed on population health and reducing inequalities, as well as improving the quality of the health of our population. Again, this risk is front-of-mind as we launch our Humber and North Yorkshire ICS.

In her address Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive, spoke openly and passionately about the future of the NHS. I think she captured the mood of the conference when she said, “It’s possible to love the NHS and want it to change”. I think she is right.

Sue Symington

Designate Chair: Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership