Health and Care Bill 2021 : the role of voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in an ICS – Lexology

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In this briefing we consider the Integrated Care System (“ICS”) “implementation guidance on partnerships with the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector” (“VCSE”) (the “Guidance”). We focus on what it means for the VCSE sector and practical considerations for the sector and the NHS as systems develop.
The Guidance recognises that VCSE organisations are key strategic partners, emphasising the value of the sector’s contribution to both the design and delivery of services. The VCSE sector will continue to play a crucial role within systems:
VCSE and system governance
VCSE organisations (from large national organisations to small local community based groups) will be a key partner within each level of the system.
VCSE involvement will build on existing partnerships as well as forge new relationships. The Guidance sets an expectation that by April 2022, Integrated Care Boards and Integrated Care Partnerships will have developed a formal agreement for engaging with, and embedding, the VCSE sector within the system’s governance arrangements. The Guidance suggests a VCSE alliance, bringing together all relevant VCSE organisations, streamlining interactions.
There are many ways in which the VCSE sector can play a unique, and central, role in driving forward positive change in systems, especially in relation to population health. VCSE experts rise to the challenges of not only delivering health and care services directly to people but also through various other important initiatives.
The role that the VCSE sector can play in decreasing health inequalities and improving the health of the population cannot be underestimated. For example, the sector:
The renewed focus on population health also presents an opportunity for VCSE organisations who might not typically align themselves to health and care, or perhaps only worked with a sub-sector of health and/or care previously, to work collaboratively with the public sector and other VCSE organisations to promote well-being and reducing health inequalities across the population of a system. Such organisations may include those who work across the fields of education, housing, employment and immigration and refugee support as well as faith-based organisations.
Practical considerations for systems
The VCSE sector is as large as it is diverse, and whilst this is a strength, there are some practical considerations including:
Arrangements across systems will vary – there is no one size fits all approach. Inter-ICS working will also be a consideration where current patient pathways will require such collaborations.
Practical considerations for VCSE organisations
Organisations will need to consider their own internal governance arrangements, including:
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