The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

The government wants every integrated care system to plan the response to cyber attacks against NHS organisations in their area, but new research by HSJ has found this still looks some time from being achieved.

Although ICSs operated in shadow form for several years before being formally launched 18 months ago, the majority of them still do not have system-wide cyber strategies in place.

Only eight ICSs confirmed they had completed their strategies or plans, despite this having been a requirement of health economies since August 2021 under the What Good Looks Like framework.

The problem is – largely – resource.

Few clinical commissioning groups – now integrated care boards – prioritised much funding for cyber resilience across their patch, as accountability for this has been firmly at local organisational level.

Some ICSs have only recently appointed a digital chief, and designing a strategy on behalf of a complex area with several providers is easier said than done – especially when the NHS is desperate to focus on tech that helps deliver operational improvement.

NHS England acknowledges the difficulties and is likely to extend the deadline for these strategies to be in place.

But the slow progress shows how complex such a task can be, despite good cyber security now being a core patient safety issue.

Total control

Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board is planning to hand over control of community services worth an annual £80m to two acute trusts for the next five to 10 years.

It is proposing to award South Warwickshire University Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Coventry a “community integrator” contract.

This version of the “lead provider” approach would see the ICB delegate control of the community services budget to the providers, making them responsible for the planning as well as the delivery of the services. 

SWFT would take control of an annual budget of £55m, while UHCW’s allocation would be worth £27m a year. The contract is due to run for five years, with a potential extension of the same length.

As part of the proposed move, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust would cease providing community services. Its adult physical community services would transfer to UHCW. CWPT has said it intends to focus on its core mental health, learning disabilities, autism and integrated children’s services.

SWFT and UHCW have been identified as the only “capable” providers by the ICB, but no contract has been awarded and the ICB is still in a procurement process. 

Also on today

In North by North West, Lawrence Dunhill looks at the twists and turns in healthcare assistants at Wirral University Teaching Hospitals’ campaign for greater pay, and in Mythbuster Steve Black delves into an academic review’s claim that if the UK population all converted to veganism, the NHS would save about £7bn every year.