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What is the integrated care system? 

Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria is the name we have given to a partnership of NHS, local councils, voluntary sector and community organisations working together to support the 1.7 million people who live in this part of North West England.

We are working together as an Integrated Care System often abbreviated to ICS. The aims of the partnership are to join up health and care services, to listen to the priorities of our communities, citizens and patients and to tackle some of the biggest challenges we are all facing.

Lancashire and South Cumbria is one of the first areas in the country to be working as an Integrated Care System as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan in January 2019. 


Our shared vision

Our vision for Lancashire and South Cumbria is that communities will be healthy and local people will have the best start in life, so they can live longer, healthier lives.

At the heart of this are the following ambitions:

  • We will have healthy communities
  • We will have high quality and efficient services
  • We will have a health and care service that works for everyone, including our staff.

Our shared vision - infographic (image file)

Click here to download a visual of our shared vision and partnership priorities


The development of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System is described below:



Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System

In May 2019, leaders across Lancashire and South Cumbria were able to demonstrate ambitious and mature relationships and ways of working across a number of areas of the partnership. This included the agreement from all NHS organisations for a system control total, which is the name for an annual financial target. This progress confirmed Lancashire and South Cumbria’s status as an Integrated Care System.

You can read more about integrated care on the NHS England website here


Developing an Integrated Care System

In February 2018, the latest NHS planning guidance renamed Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP) and restated the importance of partners working together to create what is now termed an Integrated Care System. The guidance states that this will happen as systems demonstrate their ability to take collective responsibility for financial and operational performance and health outcomes.

Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria was confirmed to be one of the first areas of the country to work as a Shadow Integrated Care System with the intention to be a formal Integrated Care System in the future. An Integrated Care System is a collaboration in which NHS, Local Authority, voluntary and other public sector partners will need to demonstrate how we will work effectively with the communities we serve. In doing so, this will bring together commissioners, providers and regulators to work in more cohesive ways.

You can read more about integrated care on the NHS England website here


The Sustainability and Transformation Partnership

In March 2017, NHS England announced that moving forward Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships will have the role to deliver the NHS Five Year Forward View and key national priorities.

The Next Steps on the NHS England Five Year Forward view says:

“These partnerships are more than just the ‘wiring’ behind the scenes. They are a way of bringing together GPs, hospitals, mental health services and social care to keep people healthier for longer and integrate services around the patients who need it most. They are a forum in which health leaders can plan services that are safer and more effective because they link together hospitals so that staff and expertise are shared between them.”

In May 2017, Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria published a plain English document which described the case for change for Lancashire and South Cumbria and set out the intentions for partnership working across the region. This guide is available to read by clicking here.

We now have a partnership of organisations working together to improve health and care for local people. More information about the aims of the partnership can be found by clicking here



Lancashire and South Cumbria was ahead-of-the-game as many organisations were already discussing plans.

In January 2016, NHS England asked 44 regions, including Lancashire and South Cumbria, to bring together NHS organisations, local authorities, voluntary and community groups to produce a Sustainability and Transformation Plan. The Sustainability and Transformation Plan is often shortened to STP.

November 2016 saw a draft of the local STP published, its purpose was to encourage further thinking about potential solutions to health and social care challenges and draw together local plans.



NHS England worked with other national organisations to produce The Five Year Forward View, this is a national plan to improve health and care services. 

This plan says that services need to get better at preventing ill health, improve, overall quality, safety and become more efficient. These three areas have been consistent leading up to the development of integrated care systems.

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