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Half of trusts think ICSs have not improved collaboration with primary care

Half of trusts think ICSs have not improved collaboration with primary care

By Jess Hacker
15 November 2022

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More than half (54%) of trust leaders believe the establishment of statutory ICSs has done ‘very little’ or nothing ‘at all’ to improve their collaborative working with primary care, a major survey has found.

But more than 76% of trust leaders felt collaboration had improved with other trusts since ICSs replaced CCGs in July.

NHS Providers’ annual State of the Provider sector survey saw 183 leaders from 121 trusts answer questions about the condition of their trust, their immediate concerns with the system, and their preparation for the winter.

When asked about the top three biggest challenges facing their ICS, trust leaders named workforce shortages as the most pressing (70%), followed by social care capacity (52%) and insufficient revenue funding (39%).

More than half (54%) said they were worried or very worried that their ICB would not sufficiently invest in tackling health inequalities, with only 14% saying they were confident.

And more than two-thirds (42%) were worried ICSs would not make tangible improvements in boosting productivity and value of health care.

On broader pressures facing their delivery, the vast majority (85%) are more worried about this winter than any previous one in their NHS careers.

A similar number (86%) are concerned that their trusts will not even have the capacity to meet demand for services over the next 12 months.

The findings come as ICBs and trusts are expected to take part in ‘Exercise Arctic Willow’: a strike action, winter preparedness exercise.

The NHS is also set to see major industrial action over the winter, with nurses in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) from nearly half of ICBs voting to join the picket line.

Commenting on the survey findings, Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive, NHS Providers, said: ‘rust leaders are working incredibly hard to prepare for winter, including working with partners across health and care.

‘Measures to support staff wellbeing through cost of living initiatives and increasing workforce numbers through recruitment, to introducing ‘patient action trackers’ to help manage discharge and flow, GP link speciality programmes connecting GPs and hospital colleagues, and frailty response cars run by ambulance, community, and hospital colleagues to help vulnerable patients are just some of the innovations that have been introduced.

‘It’s clear trust leaders are doing all they can, but there’s only so much they can do at a local level.’

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