It will now be possible to set up the first Integrated Care Providers (ICPs) thanks to a change in government legislation. Due to the changes, ICPs can ensure primary medical services can run on the same contract as other health care services.
The purpose of ICPs is to coordinate care services on a single contract to prioritise patient care. They will also improve access to care in the community to reduce trips to hospitals. Currently, integrated care is difficult to organise as care services often hold their own independent contract with commissioners. However, changes to the law now mean that ICPs can follow the rules that the NHS uses.
As ICPs will follow the same rules as the NHS, they will have to have a similar policy for complaints and rules regarding the reimbursement of travel expenses. The new changes make it easier for GPs to transfer services to an ICP contract too. However, the choice to change is completely voluntary.
ICP contracts will be available from 2019 and bids for contracts must be reviewed by both NHS staff and local clinicians. Contracts must only be awarded if they are the most effective for care in the local area. Proposals will be scrutinised, particularly in terms of the assurance and integration the contract provides.
Stephen Hammond, the Minister for Health, said; “Integrated care providers will give local areas the power to integrate care by bringing all the different healthcare services provided to local residents into a single contract.
For patients, it should mean fewer trips to hospital and more care in the community and allows health and care services to work together seamlessly with a greater focus on preventative, proactive and coordinated care.”