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Government rejects call to allow elected officials to chair ICBs

Government rejects call to allow elected officials to chair ICBs
By Beth Gault
7 March 2024

A call to allow MPs and councillors to chair ICBs, has been rejected by the Government in response to a House of Lords committee report.

The report called for elected officials to chair ICBs and for voluntary sector representatives to be on the board.

The Government’s response, published on 1 March, said that while it ‘supported the intent’ of the recommendation to ensure strong local representation in ICBs and integrated care partnerships (ICPs), NHS England ‘prohibited’ this for the position of chair.

It said: ‘NHS England has set a criterion prohibiting all ICB chairs and non-executive members from holding a public office role or a role in a healthcare organisation within the ICB area.’ It added that collaboration between local government, voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSE) and independent sector providers is an important feature of ICSs and can improve integration and patient outcomes. But it has previously said ‘the role of chair is intended to be an independent one, free from conflicts of interest’.

But it did add that elected officials could chair the ICP, which sets out the health and care strategy for the system. December’s House of Lord’s report, Patients at the centre: integrating primary and community care, set out 16 recommendations to improve the integration of services.

It stated: ‘Elected local government officials should be granted the right to chair ICBs. Representatives of voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSE) organisations should be allowed to be members of ICBs.

‘This would encourage integration by allowing elected officials responsible for social care, as well as voluntary sector service providers to direct the work of ICSs, as well as health service leaders.’

The Government response did back a recommendation for clinicians to be introduced to the work of other services by committing that all student nurses would have the chance to undertake a placement in an adult social care setting as part of their training.

It added it was ‘keen to widen this aspiration to other clinical qualifying programmes’.

‘The report underscores the critical importance of primary and community services for the successful integration of care for patients,’ it stated.

‘It sets out a helpful framework for the challenges facing the integration of care, and many of its conclusions resonate with the government’s own engagement with ICSs and the organisations within them.’

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