Health and wellbeing round-up: summer 2019

A lot has happened in the world of health and care since my last round-up in April. This blog will be a whistle-stop tour of the changes we have seen over the past few months that are of most interest to charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises working in this space. I’ll also provide some insight into the work of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, of which NCVO is a member.

The integration agenda

In recent years there has been a move towards integrated care, where services work together to meet the needs of a population. The NHS long-term plan gave renewed impetus to this, by committing to have what it calls integrated care systems in place by April 2021.

The ‘integration index’

NHS England recently shared with the Health and Wellbeing Alliance their plans to develop an ‘integration index’, which aims to measure how well different service areas (eg primary and secondary care, physical and mental health, health and social care) work together. The Alliance was positive about the ambition with the index, but keen to gather a clearer understanding of whether it can eventually help measure integration between statutory and voluntary sector organisations delivering services too. Members have been clear that integration is not the end goal, but – for those who need it – integrated support can be a way of achieving better outcomes. Personalisation is vital to ensure that integrated approaches are effective and appropriate.

Sustainability and transformation partnership areas

In 2018/19 NHS England provided funding and support to nine sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) areas that wished to engage better with their local voluntary sector. NHS England commissioned NCVO as a learning partner on this project to gather and disseminate learning to the wider statutory and voluntary sector. You can find out more about this work here. We are also running a free one-day workshop that focuses on the components of success in voluntary organisations influencing health service transformation here at NCVO on 12 September.

Social prescribing

Social prescribing was a big priority in the long-term plan and provides some important opportunities for charities working in this area:

  • Firstly, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are being asked to develop a plan at ‘place level’ (see what this means here on page 3) for working with the voluntary sector and making social prescribing universal. The plans are expected to set out how they will build on existing schemes, as well as their shared commitment to support VCSE through funding and development.
  • There will also be a new social prescribing academy and regional learning coordinators to support the expansion of social prescribing. Funding for community organisations, groups and schemes will come from Primary Care Networks. So it is worth trying to get (or keep) involved with the development of your local primary care network.

If you want to be kept in the loop with NHS updates on this work you can subscribe by emailing


Moments before Theresa May left the office of prime minister, the government launched the long-awaited prevention green paper. The paper outlines how the 2020s will be the decade of ‘proactive, predictive and personalised prevention’.

A key commitment is that the NHS will strengthen links with ‘charities and other local players’ in order to achieve scale and pace in order to ensure it is no longer treating the symptoms of problems without influencing what causes them.

However, as the Local Government Association and many charities have pointed out, this commitment needs to be supported by the necessary levels of public health funding for local councils, especially after the significant cuts that have been made to public health budgets over recent years.

The proposals in the green paper are subject to consultation, which is open until 14 October 2019. I’d encourage any organisations whose work interacts with or supports the ongoing focus on preventative healthcare to feed in.

NHS engagement with the voluntary sector

A recent blog by the chair of the joint VCSE review on the role of the voluntary sector in health and care, Alex Fox, describes the conclusions of the review, as well as the progress made since 2014 and the next steps for the work.

NHS England has also just opened up its community grants programme for 2019. The grant celebrates patient and public involvement in healthcare and is open to voluntary, community or social enterprise groups who have done exciting work on patient, service user or carer involvement. The applications are open until Monday 23 September, you can find out more here.

NHS Expo

Registration is open for NHS England Health and Care Innovation Expo, which is taking place in Manchester on 4 and 5 September.

NCVO’s very own Lev Pedro will be there, alongside other Alliance members, leading a workshop on charities influencing health service transformation.

Get in touch

As always, if you want to talk more about anything in this blog, get in touch by emailing me on

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Rosie joined NCVO in 2018 as a trainee external relations officer after working as a programme manager for a literacy charity. Rosie supports both NCVO’s parliamentary work and media relations, including Constructive Voices, and is responsible for organising our annual Campaigning Conference.

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