What are integrated care systems (ICSs)?

Integrated care systems (ICSs) are partnerships of organisations that come together to plan and deliver health and care services, and to improve the lives of people who live and work in their area. Their strategic aims are to:

  • Improve population health and healthcare
  • Tackle unequal outcomes and access
  • Enhance productivity and value for money
  • Help the NHS to support broader social and economic development.

These strategic purposes have been agreed because health is affected by many things, such as housing, unemployment, financial stress, domestic abuse and poverty. 

Following several years of locally led development, recommendations from NHS England and the passage of the Health and Care Act (2022), 42 ICSs were established in law in July 2022.

The Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) neurology methodology report (2019) states that there are 24 neuroscience centres across England. Not all ICSs have a neuroscience centre. But every ICS is responsible for developing plans to meet the needs of their local population, including the one in six people who live with at least one neurological condition. It is therefore every ICSs business to make sure they have the right treatment, care and support in place to for people affected by neurological conditions in their area.

An ICS is made up of two key statutory bodies: Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs).

Map 1 in this article by The King’s Fund shows the location and boundaries of the 42 integrated care systems (ICSs) in England.

Three regions, which include 20 ICSs, will receive delegated responsibility for the commissioning of specialised services, including many neuroscience services, from April 2024.

Further reading

NHS England and NHS Improvement [Accessed 2023] What is integrated care?

NHS England and NHS Improvement (2021) Next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems

NHS England and NHS Improvement (2021) Integrated Care Systems: design framework.

The King’s Fund (2022) Integrated Care Systems Explained