NHS England’s primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani has urged ICS leaders to ‘start to understand’ primary care in their areas.
Dr Kanani made the comments on NHS Confederation’s Health on the Line podcast, where she reflected on how ICSs can support primary care.
She said: ‘My urge to ICS leaders would be to start to understand what primary care looks like in your system.’
This includes ‘how it functions, where are the gaps where people fall in through holes, where are the conversations with the clinical leadership and how are we making sure that is informing the decisions that you’re making’, she added.
Dr Kanani said that if ICSs are ‘genuinely thinking about how you are putting the person at the centre of care that you’re to deliver and your responsibility to reduce health inequalities and unwarranted variation in care’, they must ‘start in general practice and with a wider primary care team’.
This will look like ‘a shift in culture and behaviour’, she added.
It comes as GP Dr Claire Fuller’s much-anticipated NHS England-commissioned review on integrating primary care into emerging ICSs was published last month.
The review said that GPs may soon see urgent same-day appointments being dealt with by ‘single, urgent care teams’ across larger populations.
ICSs are due to become statutory organisations in July, and will replace clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
But GP leaders have previously warned that general practice ‘could get left behind’ as ICSs failed to appoint primary care officers and that more must be done to prevent ‘tokenistic’ GP representation on ICSs.