The government has published its health and social care white paper ‘Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’ that sets out its legislative proposals for a Health and Care Bill.
The intention is to shift towards ‘population health’ applying more proactive models of care and prevention to improve physical and mental health outcomes and enable people to live more independently.
The white paper emphasises the need for place-based, joint working between health and public health bodies, local government, social care and the voluntary and community sectors.
In Annex B, the white paper sets out the framework for making Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) statutory bodies and commits to producing guidance on this. Each ICS will be required to establish an ICS Health and Care Partnership, bringing together health, social care and public health, and potentially representatives from other public stakeholders including social care and housing providers.
Housing associations can be part of ICS Health and Care Partnerships by demonstrating to their ICSs that their services reduce pressure on limited NHS resources and contribute to broader health outcomes.
The government will also clarify the central role of collaboration over competition. Where there is no value in running a competitive process, they want to ensure that services are delivered by the most appropriate provider. This means it will be important for housing associations to form a relationship with their local ICSs (such as through Primary Care Networks) to make sure they are seen as the most appropriate provider.