Health and Care Act 2022: What Changes in Camden?

The new Integrated Care System established in North Central London will be giving all our residents in Camden the support they need, by bringing together local health and care organisations with local councils. They will work together to improve health outcomes for residents and tackle inequalities that currently exist.

In April 2022, parliament agreed on the 2021 Health and Care Bill,  which became an Act this year – this will now see our health care ran as an Integrated Care System (ICS).

What does the Act say?

The ICS aims to reorganise how healthcare is delivered. It will operate on two formats: the Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs). ICBs will be responsible for the NHS functions of an ICS, while ICPs will oversee their wider public and population health efforts.

Spanning Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington, the ‘North Central London’ ICS includes 12 hospital trusts, five local authorities, and local general practices, working in partnership with the voluntary and community sector. This partnership of organisations will plan and deliver joined up services and care, to improve the lives of around 1.6 million people in these boroughs and tackle inequalities in outcomes, experience and access.

Primary and secondary care, social care, mental health and community health services will partner with each other in different ways.  The Health and Care Act has put a legal framework in place that enables services to work closer together, so it’s easier for patients in Camden to receive the care they need, when and where they need it.

What actually changes in the new system?

Even though many of the changes brought on by ICSs will be felt in local healthcare’s organisational structure, there will be some changes for patients and residents. As there is a greater focus on collaboration – not competition – they can learn from each other and accelerate new ways of working to deliver better care across the system. This aims to result in more progress, faster, in improving the health of Camden and tackling the inequalities people face in terms of their health outcomes and experience of services.

The ICB also aims to tackle wider issues that are known to impact health and wellbeing – such as housing, fulfilling work, community connection, transport, and our surroundings, aiming to add to any local changes in these areas too.

In fact, as these changes are being implemented with the aim of improving the experiences of patients, any changes residents should see will be a lower waiting time and more specialised care. For example, starting from October 2022, GPs will start ‘enhanced access’ services outside of regular opening hours, that provides the same appointments offered, in the same capacity, in the same location, as any regular appointment. This was one of the aims brought by the ICB.

It may be likely that if you require specialised care, you may be asked to travel outside of Camden to one of the other boroughs in the ICB so that you can receive better treatment faster, as part of the ICB’s priority for collaboration. However, it is not yet known to Healthwatch Camden whether people with disabilities or accessibility issues receive any support for this, or whether you’re able to choose to only get treatment locally.

These reforms won’t tackle all of the issues faced by the NHS, such as workforce issues or privatisation. Staff and local leaders will have to work with one another differently, alongside key partners in local government, the voluntary sector, and communities themselves – this may not be something everyone is used to. Healthwatch Camden, as well as the other local Healthwatch, remain one of the key groups holding the ICB and local health and care services accountable. We will continue to work in partnership with them to make sure your care is as accessible, as effective, and as efficient as possible.