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

There’s a lot of rich detail in our survey of integrated care board leaders published today, showing where ICBs are at in 2024, what they’re doing and how, and what might help them achieve it. It’s well worth a look at their detailed responses covering: how they’ve made an impact so farwhat their plans are; and their views on the biggest barriers and national policies that would help.

You can also read five key takeaways from bureau chief Dave West — including how ICBs are keeping the flag flying on prevention work, despite the looming and often NHS-centric problems of finances, emergency care performance, and staffing — which come out strongly in our main story.

Finally, in case reading’s not your thing, on our podcast this morning we chew over the issues raised in the survey, including how ICBs’ role will be shaped by the new NHS England assessment framework, and likely next health and social care secretary Wes Streeting.

Prime movers

Seven ICBs have unveiled plans to pilot new “operating models” for general practice, supported by NHSE.

The initiative aims to analyse rising demand in primary care and identify necessary changes and resources to meet it. It seeks to optimise the general practice model and involve primary care networks and community services closely in the process.

Led by ICBs, the programme aims to develop changes collaboratively rather than imposing top-down directives. It responds to challenges facing general practice, including funding shortages, staffing issues and controversies over reforms.

The initiative will explore the optimal use of additional capacity and test operational changes and digital interventions, including flexible staffing models and data-driven insights. NHSE has committed support but no funding, with the programme expected to run for two years to assess impact and benefits.

Also on

The transformative potential of Hospital at Home services is driving dynamic change in healthcare delivery, enhancing patient outcomes and easing pressure on traditional hospital systems, writes Elliot Howard-Jones in Comment. And Oluwakemi Agunbiade explores how the Unheard Voices project challenges the “hard-to-reach” narrative, empowers Black communities, and advocates for meaningful involvement in HIV healthcare.