Massive North Cumbria and North East Integrated Care System to go live in the Spring

Three Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships in North Cumbria and the North East have been amalgamated into the massive new Cumbria and North East Integrated Care System

Cumbria and North East Integrated Care System is due to go live in March 2019 as one of the 3rd wave of Integrated Care Systems.

(The others are South East London, Devon, Bristol, Norfolk and Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire and Berkshire West – where the development of the BOB STP into an Integrated Care System is being “supported by experts from PWC and Optum.”)


The NHS Long Term Plan says the whole of the country will be covered by ICSs by April 2021.

Update: In May 2020, four new Integrated Care Systems have been announced, covering six million people altogether and bringing the total number of ICSs to 18:

  • Hertfordshire and West Essex
  • Humber, Coast and Vale
  • South West London
  • Sussex

Update: In Dec 2020, NHS England announced 11 more Integrated Care Systems, bringing the total number to 29:

  • Norfolk and Waveney
  • Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire
  • Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
  • Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
  • Somerset
  • Birmingham and Solihull
  • Derbyshire
  • Hampshire and Isle of Wight
  • North West London
  • North Central London
  • North East London

The huge North Cumbria and North East Integrated Care System will have 4 Integrated Care Partnerships – North, South, East and West.

An Integrated Care Partnership is an alliance of providers and commissioners. Some Integrated Care Partnerships have providers carrying out commissioning functions, as subcontracting arrangements are put in place between lead providers and their partners.

The Northumberland Accountable Care Organisation that was stalled last year has come back as the North Integrated Care Partnership. This revenant is led by Jim Mackey – a qualified accountant who was formerly boss of NHS Improvement, while he was the seconded head of the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Last year North Tyneside Council put it on record that they were not happy about the idea of being a “partner” in a North Integration Partnership.

On 28.3.18 the Council voted unanimously that

“This council agrees that there is a growing body of evidence questioning the wisdom of …Accountable Care Organisations / Integrated Care Systems…This Council agrees to oppose any proposal to implement the delivery of healthcare in North Tyneside via an Accountable Care Organisation / Integrated Care System, a project which in North Tyneside CCGs own report was stated to be high risk”.  

It’s not clear what form North Tyneside Council’s opposition to the Integrated Care System has taken since they passed the motion. The ‘Four Integrated Care Partnerships’ graphic shows that the Council is a partner in the North Integrated Care Partnership, along with Northumberland, Newcastle and Gateshead Councils.

By April 2021, each Integrated Care System is to make a single set of commissioning decisions at system level

According to North East London Commissioning Support Unit – one of the organisations on NHS England’s Health Services Support Framework, which lists approved suppliers for setting up integrated care systems:

“The Operating Plan guidance and the Long Term Plan both make reference to commissioning arrangements that will need to be in place to underpin delivery of integrated care. The ambition is that by April 2021 every Integrated Care System (ICS) has streamlined commissioning arrangements that enable a single set of commissioning decisions at system level. This will be supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement, taking a more proactive role in supporting collaborative approaches between trusts.”

It seems that all the Integrated Care Systems in waves 1-3 are to use capitated budgets

The capitated payment method involves NHS commissioners paying a fixed annual amount for a whole range of NHS services for an area’s population, instead of paying for each patient’s treatment.

It is the subject of 999 Call for the NHS’s ongoing legal challenge to the contentious new Integrated Care Provider contract – formerly known as the Accountable Care Organisation contract before NHS England rebranded it.

Health campaigners believe that this payment method carries a big risk that there would not be enough money in such contracts to cover the costs of providing high quality treatments to all patients who have a clinical need for them.

It turns out that this payment method is to be used in a range of new “service and payment models” for integrated care that Clinical Commissioning Groups are introducing – not just in the new Integrated Care Provider contract.

This is made clear in an NHS England paper for their Board meeting on 31.1.19, which refers to both the Integrated Care Provider contract payment method and:

“other block contract arrangements [in addition to the Integrated Care Provider contract] and…the construction of Acts and Tariff rules, which supports the delivery of new and innovative service and payment models.”

From what we can gather, these “new and innovative” integrated care service and payment methods include aligned incentives contracts and other examples of what the NHS Strategy Unit calls “risk and reward sharing contracts“. It says:

“Risk and reward sharing is a key feature of the policy agenda for Accountable Care Organisations in the US and Integrated Care Systems in England… offering a commissioner the opportunity to co-opt and incentivise a provider to moderate growth in healthcare demand by sharing in the savings or cost over-runs. Risk and reward sharing can be seen as an end in itself, or as step in the journey towards capitated budgets and the full transfer of financial risk to providers.”

The Health Service Journal questions whether NHS England’s move to capitated budgets makes sense:

“There is … limited evidence from the US that risk and reward sharing contracts offer a step on the journey towards fully capitated budgets. The vast majority of accountable care organisations have not progressed to capitated budgets (as was envisaged), because they are unwilling to take on the increased risk.”

For information about why this all matters to patients, you can read What changes will patients notice in NHS Services run by Integrated Care Systems and Providers?

Update 19 May 2020: Here’s the complete list of Integrated Care Systems.


  1. Why all the long, little-known or understood words, titles and descriptions in these publications..? Is this intended to baffle the public; to ensure that what is not understood will be passed over by the proletariat..? Why so much reference to American medical institutions, systems and standards when the U.S. operates on privately operated insurance schemes, rather than a publicly controlled health scheme, nationally-financed..?

    NONE of these questions are dealt with in a way that would lessen the skepicism of public opinion that this is not yet another attempt to privatise the NHS, using not only the readily accepted American ways-and-means to achieve privatisation, but major U.S. health and insurance companies to advise and promote this to NHS England (PWC and Optum). One cannot but imagine that the phrase, “Divide and Conquer” has been supplemented through the dubious activities of this Tory government by the word “Baffle”..!


    • Are you saying the language of the blog post is baffling, John? Or that the language of the NHS docs that the blog reports on is baffling? Or both? Sorry if the blog post language is baffling – we are trying to expose what the NHS docs are saying. Because as you say they are baffling. And they are not widely reported, so most people simply don’t know what’s being planned for our NHS – which, as you say, involves more privatisation, turning it into a version of USA healthcare system, and using major U.S. health and insurance companies to advise and promote this.


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