Three further areas have been designated as integrated care systems by NHS England, meaning more than a third of the country’s population is covered.

They are:

  • Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West - two parts of which, Bucks and Berkshire West, were already separate ICS. The leader of the ICS is Fiona Wise.
  • The North East and North Cumbria - the largest sustainability and transformation partnership, and now ICS, covering more than three million people, and the existing Cumbria ICS.
  • South East London - the first ICS in London, covering about two million people.

They join the current 14 ICS, and leave 28 STPs remaining. No new ICS have been announced since spring last year, but NHS England has said all areas will be covered by an ICS by April 2021.

The three additions mean 21 million people will be covered by an ICS.

It’s likely that the three ICS within these regions will in future be referred to as integrated care “partnerships”, “providers”, or “places”, though the implications of this are not yet clear.

The BOB leader Fiona Wise, a former acute trust chief who joined the STP in March last year, said: “It is really good news for patients and will help us build on what has been done locally.

“It is a significant milestone for the leadership of the area, in collectively working together while there continue to have finance and performance challenges.” There have been finance and performance problems particularly in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and a history of poor relationships on parts of the patch. 

South East London senior responsible officer Andrew Bland said becoming an ICS “recognises the strength of that partnership, our shared commitment and the positive impact collaborative working has already had on the communities we serve”.

“We also recognise that there are significant financial and performance challenges that we need to address in south east London and that many of them cannot be resolved through a local focus alone but will also require action across a larger population and provider footprint.”

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens is expected to say at the NHS Confederation conference today that, to deliver the long term plan, “every NHS organisation will need to intensify partnership working with others – including local councils and community organisations – for the good of those we serve”.

He said the three new ICS were doing this and added: “We must keep a laser focus on making services as convenient as possible – everyone should feel like they are dealing with one system instead of having to repeat their story to a series of different organisations.”

Several other areas which have been working as part of an “aspiring” ICS programme, including Devon and Norfolk, have not been accredited.