It has been announced today (21 October 2020) that Pat Flaherty has been appointed as Chair of the shadow Somerset Integrated Care System (ICS) and James Rimmer has been appointed as the System Leader and Senior Responsible Officer. The announcement is a significant milestone in the formal designation of an Integrated Care System for Somerset.
NHS England and NHS Improvement made the appointment following a competitive and open recruitment process.
Pat and James will oversee greater partnership working between the NHS, county and district councils and VCSE partners, leading the way to improved health, care and wellbeing for everyone in Somerset.
In a county where 70,000 people suffer mental health problems at any one time, 2 in 3 adults are overweight or obese and 16% of adults smoke, the NHS, alongside Somerset county and district councils and Public Health England are drawing on the skills and expertise of the voluntary sector and neighbourhood groups on a mission for people in Somerset to live longer, healthier and happier lives.
Making the official announcement, Elizabeth O’Mahony, Regional Director, NHS England and Improvement South West, said: “I’m delighted that James and Pat have taken on these key roles and will be working together for the benefit of Somerset residents. I’d like to extend my congratulations and every good wish for successful partnership working.”
Pat Flaherty has worked for Somerset County Council since 2006 and has been Chief Executive Officer for the past six years. Pat has enjoyed a long career in local government, initially leading on transport management and civil engineering projects as well as running many successful economic growth and business support programmes. During his time as Somerset County Council CEO Pat has focused on successfully delivering service improvements as well as being the driving force in bringing the council’s social care services and NHS health services closer together.
James Rimmer joined Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group in September 2019 from Weston Area Health NHS Trust where he spent four years as Chief Executive.
James has previously worked in Somerset, both as a director of an acute trust and one of the previous primary care trusts. He has extensive executive level experience and has delivered significant service improvements across health and care systems in the South West.
Lou Evans, Vice Chair, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, on behalf of the Clinical Commissioning Group’s clinical leads, said: “Pat and James’ dedication, passion and ambition have been critical to our system’s development to join up services across health and social care to provide the best care for the people of Somerset.
“By working together in an Integrated Care System we can work differently, providing more care in people’s homes and in the community and breaking down the barriers that still exist between health and care services.”
Cllr David Huxtable, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Care said: “We welcome these appointments, which show the NHS recognises the need to join up health and care and wider public services.
“This is an important step towards ensuring everyone in Somerset has access to more seamless local services improving their health, care, and wellbeing.”
One of the key aspects of an Integrated Care System is for the local system to provide support or care closer to people’s homes. One example of this already happening across Somerset is the Rapid Response Service which supports frail older people who have had a fall, a loss of mobility, or who are unwell, to remain at home and avoid a stay in hospital. The Rapid Response Service supports around 1,000 people a year to remain at home and works closely with local voluntary organisations, such as the Red Cross, to ensure people’s social needs are also supported.
Pat Flaherty, Chief Executive, Somerset County Council and Chair of the shadow Somerset Integrated Care System, said: “I am delighted and excited to be appointed as the Chair of the Somerset Integrated Care System. We have a real opportunity to make a positive difference to the lives of our people. Working together we want the people of Somerset to be able to live healthy and independent lives, within thriving communities.
“Together we can understand, plan and deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes for the people of Somerset. By working better and more closely in partnership we can also make the best use of the money and resources available to us to provide safe, consistent and effective services.”
James Rimmer, Chief Executive, NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, System Leader and Senior Responsible Officer for the shadow Somerset Integrated Care System, said: “I am delighted and proud to have been appointed to this new role.
“To truly make a difference to the lives of people in Somerset we need to change the way we work and focus on supporting people to stay well, keep well and live well. The way our services are organised now means that we focus on when people are unwell. This is important and obviously we need to make sure that we’re here for everyone when they need us. But we also need to give equal weight to helping people to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.
“There is also much more we can do to deliver joined-up support for our growing numbers of older people and people living with long-term conditions such as chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes.
“Over the past few years health and care services have been working closely together to improve services and provide more joined-up care and we will build on this further through the shadow ICS. For example, earlier this year Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust merged to combine acute, community and mental health services, which is already resulting in improved outcomes for patients.
“And this summer we launched Open Mental Health, an alliance of local voluntary organisations and the NHS which supports people to live a full life by enabling access to specialist mental health support, debt and employment advice, volunteering opportunities, community activities and exercise.”
The NHS Long-Term Plan sets out the national vision that every area will be served by an Integrated Care System by 2021. An Integrated Care System joins up all parts of the health and care system including GPs, hospitals, community care and social care as well as physical and mental health services.
The Somerset Integrated Care System shadow board brings together leaders from the local health and care system to oversee and co-ordinate the transformation and arrangement of health and care services, making sure they are focused on the needs of individuals in Somerset, in line with the aims of our long-term plan and the Fit for My Future programme (Somerset’s health and care strategy).
The Somerset Integrated Care System will consist of:
- an integrated strategic commissioning function bringing together both health and care commissioning organisations (NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Somerset County Council) to identify the needs of the people of Somerset, set the strategic commissioning vision and identify the commissioning priorities for the system
- a single Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) which consists of a wide reaching network of providers including the VCSE sector.