Health bodies call for primary care to be recognised in new Integrated Care Systems

PSNC has joined other healthcare bodies in calling for primary care professionals to be properly recognised within the new Integrated Care Systems (ICS).

The government’s Health and Care Bill – which will make ICSs legal entities – is currently making its way through Parliament. The legislation will allow for a shift in responsibility for managing the contracts for NHS primary care services from NHS England to new Integrated Care Boards (ICB). As it stands, the Bill only dictates that each ICB includes a member nominated by general practice, with no insight from any of the other primary care professions.

PSNC and organisations representing the dentistry, optometry and audiology sectors have warned that this draft legislation risks the under-representation of wider primary care sectors on the boards, which are set to be handed responsibility for commissioning decisions.

The Bill is currently being read in Parliament, so PSNC, together with the British Dental Association, Association of Optometrists, Association of British Dispensing Opticians, and the National Community Hearing Association, have encouraged Parliamentarians to ask for provisions to be made to ensure the whole of primary care is represented in these new local systems.

Read our joint briefing for more information

PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:

“All primary care providers must have a voice in the new Integrated Care Systems, including community pharmacies and their teams. Every day around 1.6 million people visit a pharmacy in England to access vital medicines, healthcare advice and other important services, such as NHS flu vaccinations. During the pandemic, public reliance on pharmacies has increased, reflecting the importance of pharmacy services to patients and local communities. It is therefore important that these new local systems recognise the critical role played by pharmacies and the whole of primary care, as well as general practice.”

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:

“Voices that make up three-quarters of NHS primary care risk being lost in commissioning decisions that affect their services and the millions of patients they treat and serve every day. General practice simply cannot be expected to effectively represent the views, perspectives and distinct challenges facing colleagues in the wider NHS. We believe that for the benefit of patients and the NHS the crucial contribution non-medical primary care professionals make to the local health and care systems must be recognised and reflected at every level of the NHS, including within Integrated Care Boards. The only way this can happen effectively is if colleagues are guaranteed a seat at the table. That means a board presence drawn from non-medical primary care professions such as dentists, community pharmacists or optical professionals.”

The representative bodies for primary eye care and audiology – ABDO, the AOP, FODO and the NCHA – said:

“Optical practices and other primary care providers are vital to population health and care, and need a voice at all levels of the NHS in England. That’s why we are working together and calling on MPs to include provisions in the Bill to make sure this happens starting with the new Integrated Care Boards.”

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