Creating joined-up plans for a better quality of life

PUBLISHED: 08:30 15 August 2020

Cllr Ketan Sheth is worried about integrated care in Brent.

Cllr Ketan Sheth is worried about integrated care in Brent.


Covid-19 is affecting every aspect of our communities: the consequences will be most profound for our most vulnerable residents.

In north-west London, we experienced the start of the sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs). By April, an integrated care system (ICS) will have been introduced, taking forward much of what was developed by STPs. It comes at a time of incredible change for our NHS and local government, all influenced by the pandemic.

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We have seen that our data collection systems are not set up to provide a full picture of the virus’s impact. For example, our uncoordinated supply chain led to shortages of vital equipment. As a result, some of the key workers on the frontline were left unprotected.

Covid-19 made it clear we are very susceptible to actions elsewhere. Our responses need to be equitable, and this requires cooperation. Our aims must address the fragmentation of patient services, enabling impactful and coordinated care. But what do we mean by “integrated care”? Building alliances between the NHS, local government and other stakeholders is critical. This is an opportunity to transcend the narrow focus on individual dots, or the patchwork linking selected dots, to one that understands the changes that must take place to enable the benefits to be sustained and have greater impact on all our communities. It is about working towards an NHS less fragmented.

But what does this mean for Brent residents? What will an ICS do to make them and their families healthier, and be able to live longer and with a better quality of life? For me, that is what organisational “systems” in public services should be all about.

• Ketan Sheth is councillor for Tokyngton ward and chair of Brent Council’s community and wellbeing scrutiny committee.

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