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ICBs tasked with setting up care coordination service

ICBs tasked with setting up care coordination service
By Beth Gault
28 March 2024

NHS England has asked all ICBs to set up a care coordination service that could include same day emergency care, according to new priorities and operational planning guidance published today.

The integrated care coordination (ICC) service would bring together multidisciplinary teams to create a ‘single point of access’.

NHS England said this should include access to urgent care services such as urgent community response, acute respiratory infection hubs and falls services. It added that systems ‘may wish to extend this option to include SDEC [same day emergency care], acute frailty services or virtual wards’.

It said: ‘ICCs will support GPs and integrated neighbourhood teams to manage the escalation of patients with urgent and complex needs at home (including care homes), avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.

‘There should be clear pathways from 111, 999 and other services into each ICC, and ambulance crews should be supported to embed call before convey in local practice.’

It added that further advice and guidance would be published on the key principles of ICCs ‘shortly’ and learning from ongoing evaluation models in spring 2024.

NHS England also mandated the establishment of ‘at least’ one women’s health hub in every ICB by December 2024, working in partnership with local authorities.

It said it would work with ICBs to ensure at least 75% have one in place by July 2024 ‘that meets minimum requirements’, including a virtual option.

Primary care services recovery

The document asked systems to work on several measures to help support the recovery of primary care and community services. This includes improving the ‘alignment’ of community services to primary care networks ‘as a step to building integrated neighbourhood teams’.

It also stated ICBs should develop a ‘comprehensive plan’ by June 2024 to reduce overall waiting times for community services. NHS England said it would work with ICBs and providers to set a ‘specific ambition’ and improve data capture for this.

On dentistry, it asked ICBs to take ‘all necessary steps’ to support the delivery of the recovery plan and recover activity to pre-pandemic levels.

It added that there would be a ringfence to dental budgets, and that NHS England would collect monthly returns from all ICBs to establish current and planned spend against the budget.

Overall funding flat

In her foreword to the document, Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, admitted that the outlook for 2024/25 was ‘challenging’, and funding for the NHS would be ‘flat’ in real terms.  

She said: ‘In the recent spring budget, the chancellor announced £2.45 billion of extra funding for the next year, which covers the recurrent cost of the pay deal and gives the NHS flat real funding for 2024/25.

‘Many of the ambitions for 2024/25 reflect the reality of the multi-year process of recovering from the impact of the pandemic and improving services for patients. We know that given the current context, many of them will be stretching.’

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