South East London Integrated Care Partnership – Leading the Way

The South East London Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) is doing some really interesting work with the voluntary sector around changing its procurement practices, funding and support for the sector with its Voluntary and Community Sector Enterprise (VCSE) Alliance Director, Tal Rosenzweig.

I have been following this quite closely to see what this looks like in practice. So often in strategy documents there are lots of warm words about what systems want to do. However, talking about how they want to work with the sector doesn’t translate into any real concrete action.

Not so in this case. It feels to me that South East London are leading the way from the top in how to do this in a meaningful way. A way that will make a real difference to communities, particularly those who experience health inequalities.

They have produced a draft charter of how the ICP wants to work with the sector across all the six boroughs. This was signed off in their October meeting.

What are the Charter Commitments?

The charter outlines a list of commitments that the ICP and its system partners will sign up to over a number of years. These commitments will help strengthen the voluntary sector and partnership working.

They will:

  1. Treat the VCSE sector as a full strategic partner in setting strategic direction and in system planning, in addition to its role in delivery services;
  2. Increase funding provided for the VCSE sector and secure services in ways that deliver greater social value;
  3. Ensure proportionate procurement and contract monitoring processes. This will reduce the transactional burden for commissioners and providers and ensure a level playing field for VCSE organisations;
  4. Invest in strengthening the VCSE sector’s infrastructure so that it can play an effective role in the strategic leadership of our system and service delivery.

It is particularly exciting as it acknowledges the importance of grass roots organisations that help to tackle health inequalities. There is a commitment to not only work more closely with them, but to change procurement practices to enable this to happen. It is great to see an integrated care system acknowledging the importance of smaller organisations and the value that they bring to health. Changing procurement practices will be key to this. We are aware from our members that it has been an ongoing challenge to involve them in ways that work for them.

This is an excellent example of a system really thinking about what difference it can make to communities. Not only on paper but in practice as well. Implementation of these commitments will be the next stage and measuring success. But it is a promising start for the communities and voluntary sector in the South East.

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