Evidence gathered during the committee’s inquiry, on which we served as advisers, convinced MPs from across the political spectrum that the direction set by sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems is the right one, even though some had doubts at the outset.
While supporting work across the NHS to develop integrated care, the committee calls on NHS England and national bodies to develop a much clearer narrative explaining what integrated care is and why it matters to patients and service users.
The absence of such a narrative has contributed to widespread misunderstanding in many quarters, reinforced by the use of language drawn from the United States.
The recent shift of terminology from accountable care to integrated care shows that this message has been heard and the priority now should be to communicate in plain English why this policy is being pursued.
Following a difficult birth, not helped by the lack of transparency associated with their development, the challenge faced by STPs and the ICSs is to build more effective partnerships both within the NHS and between the NHS, local government and the third sector, and to demonstrate that their aim is to improve health and care.