The Dorset Integrated Care System, Explained

What is an Integrated Care System and how does the VCSE sector get involved? Here we explore how the NHS works and how it is changing.

What is happening in Health and Care?

The NHS in England has been divided up into 42 different areas called Integrated Care Systems (ICS’s). Each ICS has a voluntary sector alliance or assembly, in Dorset we have an Assembly called Dorset Voluntary Community Sector Assembly. It enables the VCSE sector to shape and inform the ICS into a system which works for everyone. Check out this from The Kings Fund explaining what is happening to Health and Care!

We have been in partnership with #HelpAndKindness, leading on the development of the integration of the VCS within the emerging ICS structures. We keep our members involved and updated with ICS developments as they occur, through our eNewsletters, Networks and VCS Involvement Partners.

NHS Dorset Joint Forward Plan – Making Dorset the healthiest place to live. 

We all want Dorset to be a healthy place where you can live your best life. We’ve been speaking up for local voluntary and community groups in our work with NHS Dorset and other partners to develop this new plan, and ensure it includes how we can all work together and serve our communities.

Their website shares plans in an accessible way and invites you to add ideas about how we can make plans become reality.

Please take a look and use this opportunity to have your say.

What is an Integrated Care System, and why does it matter to you?

ICS’s bring together commissioners of NHS services, local authorities and place-based partners such as the VCSE sector. Together, these sectors are able to collectively plan and deliver health and care services to meet the needs of their communities.

The new Working Better Together Integrated Care Partnership Strategy recognises the county’s health challenges from lower life expectancy to some of the highest rates of child poverty in England and sets a series of demanding targets to improve lives.

Jenni Douglas-Todd – Interim Chair, Dorset Integrated Care Partnership said ‘Integrated care systems are all about improving outcomes and tackling inequalities. I’m excited by the opportunity working as a single system brings – only by working together and listening to local people will we make the changes we need to.’

The plan has been developed by the NHS, local councils and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations who have come together as an Integrated Care Partnership. 

Read more about the Integrated Care partnership here.


One System, two places – ICS regional context

It is important to understand the context of Dorset as it plays a huge role in our health and wellbeing. Dorset is split into two ‘places’ – the area covered by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council, and the area covered by Dorset Council. We need to know how these two places shape the health and wellbeing of the people living there

BCP Council

Around 400,000 people live in the BCP Council area. The population is higher than the national average, but also includes a higher number of people aged 19-25 than other areas due to its three universities. This also means the population changes regularly as people move in and out of the area.

We have a growing population from diverse ethnic groups – more so than in the Dorset Council area.

People’s health is about the same or better than the national average, and people who live in the area are generally happy with their lives. How long and how well people live can vary though – BCP has some of the richest and poorest areas in the country.

There is less unemployment than rates in England, but more jobs in lower paid areas like accommodation and food services. Wages are low, and there is a shortage of affordable housing

Dorset Council

Lots of people are moving to Dorset, with the population growing by 3,000 each year, despite our birth rates being lower than the national average.

Many people choose to retire in Dorset – out of the 380,000 people living here, 29% are aged 65 and older, compared with 19% across England.

Younger people often move away from the area due to lack of opportunities, low wages and high housing costs.

Around 25% of families in Dorset live in poverty, and 27% of people are earning below the living wage.

While crime is low, anti-social behaviour and rural crime are an ongoing concern.

The population is more than 90% white British. Fewer than 5% of residents are from ethnic diverse communities.

Becoming an ICS allows us to address these issues by working together as one system with health and care partners, as well as local authorities.

What are the structures within the ICS?

What is an Integrated Care Board?
The Integrated Care Board (ICB) took over commissioning functions from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) on July 1st, 2022. ICB’s have overall responsibility for the delivery of NHS services.

What is an Integrated Care Partnership?
The Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) is responsible for creating our ICS strategy. The ICP consists of leads from all partners in the ICS. This includes local authorities, social care and the VCS.

What is a Placed based Partnership?
Our ICS is divided into 2 Area-ICPs: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Dorset. This enables co-design and strategy to happen in an area larger than place but smaller than the whole ICS.