Anyone who attended the most recent Accountable Care Journal seminar was left in no doubt that the priorities of health and social care professionals in England are aligned – but does the theory match what’s actually happening?

The extensive line-up of speakers from the acute, primary care, social care, mental health, and local government sectors all presented the same objectives for how they would like to see reforms made while noting surprisingly similar challenges to delivering this.

 Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive of CIPFA and Chair of the North East London STP, opened the seminar in his signature style, addressing the themes of leadership, managerial and systematic culture and the need to focus on the prevention agenda as opposed to simply channelling funds into treating ill health in the acute sector. Turning to the topic of breaking down silos in health and care, Whiteman commented: “In my STP I have banned the use of the word sovereignty… there is no sovereignty with regard to public money.”

This was to become a theme of the seminar with Gerard Hanratty, Partner at law firm, Browne Jacobson, following up on the theme by addressing the legal practicalities and conditions for developing Integrated Care Systems (ICS’s). While many in the room were clearly still sceptical of whether this model can be achieved at all, interest was certainly peaked by the confident reassurance that it can and is being done successfully across the country.

Dr Claire Fuller, Senior Responsible Officer at the Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership, one of 10 ICS regions in England, testified to this, drawing from examples in the South East and the unique challenges faced in the region. Claire was joined on the panel by Andy Bell from the Centre for Mental Health and Cllr Richard Kemp, Deputy Chair of the Local Government Association Community Wellbeing Board, who both ardently advocated the importance of ensuring community health services are supported to deliver on new models of prevention, changing the debate to focus on health as opposed to healthcare.

Of course, social care was not absent from the agenda, nor were discussions of the mounting workforce pressures facing both health and care as Sharon Allen, Chief Executive of Skills for Care, brought the afternoon’s debate round to critical underfunding and growing demands from an ageing population. The message couldn’t be clearer, that health and care organisations need to work more closely and that the dominant culture across many providers needs to change. But where does this leadership come from? The Department of Health and Social Care? NHS England? STPs? Individual Trusts and practices? A mixture of all perhaps.

Closing proceedings, Dr Nav Chana, Chair of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), presented findings from the NAPC’s Primary Care Home model, currently implemented in over 200 sites across the UK. There is crucially a role for all elements of the system to play but it is resolutely clear that these fragmented corners that look after the population’s health and wellness need to get together once in a while, share ideas and most importantly, see them converted into systematic change and improved outcomes.

For those that made it through the afternoon and still had an appetite for insight from the top, the seminar was followed by a reception with Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Care, who, while saying little about the upcoming Social Care Green Paper, did offer some reassurance that the concerns and priorities of speakers and delegates were echoed in the Department of Health and Social Care. Alongside the ambitious digital agenda outlined by the Secretary of State, it is clear that integration is at the forefront of the government’s plans, looking at the long-term as well as short and mid-term funding and workforce challenges being faced in the sector.

To continue fuelling this debate, ACJ is hosting it’s next seminar in Manchester on 19 November with Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust. To find out more, you can visit