Sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems

What are Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships?

Every NHS and local council in England has come together in 44 areas to develop proposals to improve health and care. 

They have formed new partnerships – known as sustainability and transformation partnerships – to jointly plan services for the next few years.                                                

What is an Integrated Care System (ICS)?

In some areas, a partnership will evolve to form an integrated care system.

This is a new way of working with even greater collaboration between organisations.

In an integrated care system, NHS organisations, local councils and others take collective responsibility for

  • delivering NHS standards
  • managing resources and
  • improving the health of the population.

Integrated Care Systems draw on the experience of the 50 ‘vanguard’ sites in England, which aimed to join up GP, hospital, community and mental health services through new models of care.

Why are STPs and ICS’s important?

STPs and ICSs introduced by the NHS five year forward view plan create an important opportunity to deliver whole-person care that responds to mental health, physical health and social needs together.

Developing more integrated approaches to mental health is a key priority given the close links between mental health and physical health outcomes, and the impact these have on the quality and costs of care.

What is RCPsych doing?

In 2017, we published a report with the King’s Fund which looked at mental health plans in the vanguard sites with three case study examples.

Read our report on Vanguards (PDF).

We’re now working with STP leaders and those involved in developing an ICS to understand how mental health services are being improved in local areas.  

How you can get involved

We want to hear from people involved in developing an ICS – or thinking of starting an ICS.  If you’re interested, please get in touch with Holly Paulsen, Deputy Head of Policy and Campaigns at

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