Integrated Care

Joined up health and care

The Health and Care Act 2022 introduced new legislative measures that aim to make it easier for health and care organisations to deliver joined-up care for people who rely on multiple different services, building on earlier recommendations by NHS England and NHS Improvement. 

From 1 July 2022 there has been a significant change to the way health and care will be governed across England. 

Forty-two statutory integrated care systems will bring together the NHS, councils and other partners to plan and deliver health and care services in their area. The legal introduction of integrated care systems sees clinical commissioning groups dissolved. 

Integrated care boards – for us, NHS Kent and Medway – will be leadership organisations supporting partners to more effectively join up care and place an emphasis on prevention. Kent and Medway has a population of 1.9 million people and is one of the largest integrated care systems in the country. 

The aim is to enable the forty-two areas to completely transform health and care for people in their local communities, as well as cutting red tape. For example, boosting health checks in the community to find people with health problems before they become seriously unwell is a key goal of the shift to integrated care systems, where local organisations work together to better meet the needs of local people.  

This animation from The King's Fund explains the key organisations that make up the integrated care system: How does the NHS in England work and how is it changing? (You Tube video).

Kent and Medway Integrated Care Stystem

An integrated care system is when all organisations involved in health and social care work together in different, more joined-up ways. The focus is on providing care in a way that benefits patients - not what is easiest for organisations.

In Kent and Medway, all the NHS organisations and the Kent and Medway councils have been working together as a sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) since 2016. 

In April 2021, NHS England formally accredited Kent and Medway as an Integrated Care System.

On 1 July 2022, the integrated care system was given statutory responsibilities; NHS Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board replaced the clinical commissioning group.

You can see more about what partners working together want to achieve in this film produced by NHS Kent and Medway: Joining up health and social care (Vimeo).

You can also visit the Kent and Medway Integrated Care System website

Health and Care Partnerships

There are four health and care partnerships in Kent and Medway, including East Kent.    

Health and care partnerships (previously called Integrated care partnerships  or ICPs) bring together all provider health organisations in a given area to work as one. Each organisation within a partnership retains its own budget but will agree, with other partners, how it is spent for the benefit of the local community. 

Partnerships can design and deliver services to meet the needs of everyone they serve based on their local population. They can focus services on areas of greatest need, helping to reduce health inequalities and improve life expectancy.

HCPs are supporting healthcare providers to work more closely with local councils – not just with social care and public health colleagues, but also education, planning, housing, environmental health and leisure services. 

Integrated Care Strategy

A new plan for improving health and care was launched in January 2023 for people in Kent and Medway.

The Kent and Medway Integrated Care Strategy has been produced by NHS Kent and Medway, Kent County Council and Medway Council, supported by district councils, Healthwatch organisations and the voluntary sector. It looks at how health and care colleagues from the NHS and local councils can work together to make improvements. 

Its priorities include:

  • giving children the best start in life and working to make sure they are not disadvantaged by where they live or their background and are free from fear or discrimination
  • helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society to improve their physical and mental health; with a focus on the social determinants of health and preventing people becoming ill in the first place
  • helping people to manage their own health and wellbeing and be proactive partners in their care so they can live happy, independent and fulfilling lives; adding years to life and life to years
  • supporting people with multiple health conditions to be part of a team with health and care professionals working compassionately to improve their health and wellbeing
  • ensuring that when people need hospital services, most are available from people’s nearest hospital; while providing centres of excellence for specialist care where that improves quality, safety and sustainability
  • making Kent and Medway a great place for our colleagues to live, work and learn.

Read the Kent and Medway Integrated Care Strategy

Primary Care Networks

Primary care networks (PCNs) include groups of general practices working together, and in partnership with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local area, to offer more personalised, coordinated health and social care to the people living in their area.

There are around  40 PCNs in Kent and Medway. Networks are aligned to a health and care partnership - this supports them to work more closely with other partners in the area.

Healthwatch Kent

Healthwatch Kent is your local health and social care champion. As an independent statutory body, Healthwatch have the power to make sure NHS leaders and other decision makers listen to your feedback and improve standards of care.

Please see the Healthwatch easy read resources that help explain its role and what it does.