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Integrated Care Systems

Volume 738: debated on Tuesday 17 October 2023

Integrated care systems and the organisations within them are making real progress in understanding the health needs of their populations, setting out their plans, developing the infrastructure needed for collaboration, and bringing health and social care organisations together to serve the needs of their communities.

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside integrated care board has instructed all NHS providers to make cuts of 5% in their services. Its instruction is not being discussed with members of the public, Members of Parliament or indeed anyone, and it is clear there is no mandate for this action. Given that the Government have made great play of the NHS having more funds than ever before, I am at a loss to understand why the cuts are necessary, so will the Minister intervene to ensure that they do not happen on her watch?

NHS England determines the funding received by integrated care systems. That follows a formula which takes into account the needs of local populations, demographic deprivation and so on, and ICSs are then able to direct resources as they are best needed across those populations. Part of their value, and part of the intention in setting them up along with the organisations within them, lies in that ability to understand the health needs of local populations and direct resources accordingly.

Integrated care systems bring partner organisations together to improve health, tackle inequalities, and enhance value for money. Detailed data such as that produced by NHS Digital is critical to their work, but we learnt this week that A&E waiting times in Wales had been under-reported for the last 10 years. Does the Minister agree that without accurate data, the Labour Government in Cardiff are scuppering the attempts of NHS Wales to deliver better health outcomes throughout Wales?

My hon. Friend has made a good point about the importance of transparency and accurate data. As she said, just this week we learnt that Labour-run NHS Wales had been under-reporting its A&E waiting times. According to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, about 45,000 patients are missing from the data. While we are working hard to improve services in the NHS in England, the Labour-run NHS in Wales is merely fudging the figures.

The whole purpose of integrated care systems is to join up social care and NHS services in a better way. We know, for example, that fracture liaison services keep 100,000 people out of hospital, but only 50% of English NHS trusts have them, and despite the commitment given by the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care—the hon. Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield—to providing more, nothing has happened, and Lord Evans has walked back from her commitment. I realise that I am pushing at an open door in directing this question to a Minister whose leg is strapped up, but when will the Government finally deliver for the “back better bones” campaign to help older people to survive and thrive?

As the hon. Member has mentioned, I have a broken ankle, and I am taking my responsibility as Minister with oversight of urgent and emergency care very seriously in making use of several of those services. As for my oversight of integrated care systems, what I am seeing is that they are making a very good job of enabling the integration of services. For instance, we are seeing real success in the growth of virtual wards—or “hospital at home”—which bring together acute and community services to look after people in their homes and help them to be discharged earlier. The NHS has achieved its target of having 10,000 “hospital at home” places ready for this winter.