In Dorset, we’ve been working as an integrated care system (ICS) for a few years. Our ICS is called Our Dorset. Integrating health and care is about removing traditional barriers between services so people can access the support and care they need from NHS and social care services when they need it.

Last year the government set out proposals for all areas across England to become an ICS by 1 July 2022. Legislation from NHS England and the government gives legal credibility to this more joined-up way of working.

As well as ICS, you may have heard the acronyms ICB and ICP floating about, but what do they mean, and what’s the difference between them? Take a look at our video, which explains them all.

This is the system that brings together the health and care organisations in a particular local area, to work together more closely. There are 42 ICSs across England and they will be formally established as legal entities in July 2022, subject to legislation being agreed by parliament, although they operate as voluntary partnerships of local organisations in the meantime. Many health and care organisations have already been working in this integrated way successfully, particularly through the pandemic, and statutory footing represents the next step in recognising this success. Each integrated care system will be responsible for planning health and care services in the area it covers. Each one will be made up of an integrated care board and an integrated care partnership, which will work in tandem to meet the needs of their population.

The integrated care board holds responsibility for planning NHS services, including those previously planned by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). As well as a chairs and chief executives, membership of the board includes ‘partner’ members drawn from local authorities, NHS trusts/foundation trusts and primary care. The ICB should ensure that services are in place to deliver the integrated care strategy developed by the integrated care partnership. ICBs will be created as statutory organisations, including a governing board, from July 2022.

The integrated care partnership operates as a statutory committee. It is made up of partners from across the local area, including voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations and independent healthcare providers, as well as representatives from the ICS board. One of the key roles of the partnership is to assess the health, public health and social care needs of the area it serves, and to produce a strategy to address them. This, in turn, will direct the integrated care board’s planning of health services and local authorities’ planning of social care services. ICPs will be created from July 2022, supported by a secretariat but not employing staff as an organisation.