What the latest proposals for ICSs could mean for the NHS workforce

What the latest proposals for ICSs could mean for the NHS workforce

The NHS has released new proposals for integrated care systems (ICSs), which it believes are the future of health and care in England.

There are already more than 14 ICSs across the country, and the NHS is planning to cover every part of England by April 2022. But what will this mean for NHS procurement and workforce planning?

Let’s start by looking at the main points of the new NHS document – ‘Integrating care: Next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England’.

New proposals for ICSs in England

The latest proposals flesh out the detail for ICSs from the NHS Long Term Plan, officially launched in January 2019. The key focus is collaboration, encouraging local NHS healthcare providers and local authorities to work together to provide joined-up solutions.

Through closer collaboration and stronger working relationships, local organisations can take on greater responsibility for managing pooled budgets and resources. They can also take on the challenge of delivering shared performance targets.

The NHS is focusing on improving overall health and proactively preventing illness, as well as meeting standards for healthcare provision. Furthermore, the plan is to eliminate variation and gaps in care, so that each patient in each area can access seamless services.

Ultimately, the NHS wants to encourage collective local ownership and responsibility of healthcare across the country. The new way of working will be all about partnerships, with all local NHS trusts working as part of a formal, place-based provider collaborative.

Better workforce planning

A key part of the accelerated ICS plans is forward-thinking, local workforce planning. The NHS will be developing a new operating model for workforce, with collaboration at its heart. According to the ‘Interim NHS People Plan’ of June 2019:

“We need to continue to work collaboratively and to be clear what needs to be done locally, regionally and nationally, with more people planning activities undertaken by local integrated care systems (ICSs).”

New skills focus 

The new workforce planning models for ICSs are also likely to increase demand for new skill sets. For example, the NHS anticipates it will need to apply analytical skills within its systems, so that it can understand how best to deploy resources to deliver improved outcomes.

There will be a new focus on strategic transactional commissioning and contracting, and key roles created to deliver ambitious population health outcomes.

Assistive technology will be integral to modernising, streamlining and linking together healthcare services in each local area. This could trigger new digital transformation projects, which of course will need highly skilled specialists. According to the latest NHS proposals:

“Systems should ensure that each place has appropriate resources, autonomy and decision-making capabilities to discharge these roles effectively, within a clear but flexible accountability framework that enables collaboration around funding and financial accountability, commissioning and risk management.”


To find out more about specialist careers in the NHS, or how we work with public sector organisations to deliver bespoke staffing solutions – get in touch with our specialist team here at Castlefield Recruitment.