Responsibility for East Sussex’s NHS primary care services to change

An NHS reorganisation in East Sussex is set to see changes made to who is responsible for commissioning primary care services.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 2:53 pm
Clinical Commissioning Groups are set to disappear with Integrated Care Systems taking their place (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Clinical Commissioning Groups are set to disappear with Integrated Care Systems taking their place (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which were GP-led, replaced the old primary care trusts back in 2013.

Since then the three covering East Sussex have merged into one single CCG covering the whole county.

However another reorganisation is on the way as the government legislation is due to establish Integrated Care Systems (ICS), which will take on the existing functions of CCGs.

In Sussex there would be one ICS, with three separate health and care partnerships covering East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove.

The Sussex Health and Care Partnership ICS, which is already established, would start a shadow operational model from October ahead of being put on a legislative footing by April 2022.

The government’s aim is to improve integration and collaboration within the NHS as well as between the NHS and other health organisations.

The proposals were discussed by East Sussex County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday (June 29).

Officers noted this was not a comprehensive package of reforms and proposals should be seen alongside wider reforms to Public Health, mental health and social care.

The government White Paper could also lead to changes to NHS-related competition rules, new powers of intervention for the Secretary of State, a new duty for the regulator CQC to assess local authorities’ delivery of adult social care services, a new legal framework for discharge to assess to replace the legal requirement for all assessments to take place prior to discharge and requirements to share data.

It envisages that Primary Care Networks will enable GPs to support the delivery of improved population health and to work in partnership with community health and social care services.

Mark Stainton, ESCC’s director of adult social care, said: “We are in a slightly different position to the rest of Sussex given our long history of very positive joint working and collaboration with our local NHS colleagues and will continue with an ongoing focus on providing partnership working relating to community services and primary care within East Sussex.”

Carl Maynard, lead member for adult social care and health, added: “Cynics among you may feel this is another health sector reorganisation, but we need to focus upon what these aims of the reorganisation are.”

He echoed Mr Stainton’s points about East Sussex’s ‘long and positive track record’ of joint working with the local NHS.

Although there would be one ICS for the entirety of Sussex, Mr Maynard said: “The focus will remain on East Sussex residents. Quite clearly some of these services will be organised on a pan-Sussex basis but we will not lose sight of the fact that our services need to be delivered locally and they are locally focused.”

Leader Keith Glazier agreed, suggesting parts of the country would be catching up to East Sussex. He said: “Joint working we have had in place for many years has the opportunity to flourish and I think the key part of all of this is whilst the intention is to have some things run on a countywide basis, we will be focused on East Sussex.”

Lib Dem John Ungar welcomed the place-based partnerships and the provision of data on the capacity of the care market, but disagreed with any changes that would allow the Secretary of State to interfere in local decision making.

Both he and Labour’s Trevor Webb commented on the long wait for adult social care reforms.

Mr Webb described the report on the proposed changes as ‘interesting and in some ways exciting’, but noted that social care was the area ‘people from local government have really being crying out for direction and we still have not got it’.