NHS England will develop and test models of delegating commissioning functions from ICBs to provider collaboratives, under a new acceleration scheme.
The Provider Collaborative Innovators scheme will build on the role provider collaboratives are expected to play in supporting ICSs, and will see NHSE ‘provide hands-on support’ to ‘accelerate the benefits they can deliver for their populations’.
In a letter sent to ICB and trust leads (9 November), NHSE said it will support seven to nine collaboratives to co-design a support offer and provide a ‘community of practice’ to ‘spread the benefits to every area’.
According to the letter, the scheme will ‘empower’ selected systems and collaboratives to take advantage of the Health and Care Act 2022, and will see NHSE ‘develop and test models of joint decision making or ICBs delegating commissioning functions to provider collaboratives’.
It said: ‘We want to support ICBs and providers to work together in new ways that are less transactional, and more collaborative to achieve shared goals.’
The scheme will also include direct support on strategic planning, programme management, building partnerships across systems, and will result in the creation of a peer learning network to troubleshoot shared problems.
In August 2021, NHS England published guidance setting out its expectations for provider collaboratives, including reducing unwarranted variation in patient outcomes, access, and experience, and building greater resilience for services by sharing capacity and resources.
It said that in the time since, trusts have set up collaborations to focus on system priorities, including pandemic recovery, pathway improvement, strengthening fragile services, and joining up clinical and corporate function.
Systems and provider collaboratives applying for the scheme must currently be delivering ‘mid to long term transformation to address key challenges that their ICSs want to solve’. NHSE will also seek to select at least one collaborative in each region, to support ways of working together across ICSs of different size, geographies and priorities.