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The power of three

Three northern sustainability and transformation partnerships have appointed a single leader and are aiming to become an integrated care system by April next year.

HSJ revealed that the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and North Durham; Darlington, Teesside, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby; and West, North and East Cumbria STPs were in talks last year to form a single footprint.

This would create the largest STP in the country, covering a population of 3.2 million.

But now a briefing paper has revealed North Tees and Hartlepool FT chief executive Alan Foster has been appointed lead for the three STPs, which are aiming to form an integrated care system in 2019.

While a merger has not been ruled out, this is a major step towards the integration of commissioning and provision of care for the region.

The proposals – highlighted in a briefing paper to Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body – include a single control total for the whole footprint.

The regions already have shared work programmes and a number of vanguard projects and new care models in development. But HSJ understands these could sit within an ICS across the three STPs.

The STP has also set up a joint health strategy group, chaired by Mr Foster, featuring the 12 CCG chief officers and 11 trust chief executives and representatives of national bodies.

But it is not clear if all these organisations have signed up to the proposals, so only time will tell if they bear fruit.