College seeks to ensure mental health is heard as services integrate

Online news
28 November 2019

Today the College publishes recommendations for local and national health and care leaders to support the prioritisation of mental health as local areas develop into ‘Integrated Care Systems’ (ICSs).

The document “Improving mental health services in systems of integrated and accountable care: emerging lessons and priorities” brings together the opportunities and challenges for mental health services which we have heard from local areas who have begun the process of evolving into ICSs. 

ICSs are a new way of working, requiring 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.

This change brings opportunity for mental health services to be incorporated more fully with the wider health and care system, and for patients to benefit from more joined up care. However as ICSs develop, health services will be systematically reviewed and re-configured. This throws up challenges around the viability of mental health trusts, many of which might be too small to have their voice heard and could face re-organisation.

So, in this process it is essential that the voices of mental health services and their patients are heard, and not diluted or fragmented and that mental health leaders’ expertise of working adaptively across complex systems is appreciated. 

The recommendations focus on the following areas:

  • Establishing and maintain a clear purpose and role of ICSs
  • Engaging and collaborating during the planning process
  • Making use of population health management, data and outcomes
  • Using new contractual models to delivery high quality care
  • Funding, whole population budgets and incentives
  • Ensuring mental health can play a leading role - leadership and governance

Find out more about mental health in ICSs and download the full document

For further information, please contact: