I’m delighted to present this, our first Joint Forward Plan, as the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System. This plan outlines the joint ambitions of NHS partners in mid and south Essex, which both respond to, and support the joint health and wellbeing strategies of our three upper tier local authority partners (Essex County Council, Southend City Council and Thurrock Council), and the Integrated Care Strategy that we have jointly developed, under the auspices of the Integrated Care Partnership.
As is the case for many newly established Integrated Care Systems, we face a number of challenges. The Covid pandemic has exacerbated health inequalities in our population, our primary care services are under extreme pressure. Demand on our mental health, urgent and emergency services are significant, we have long waits for planned treatments and we are not meeting nationally set standards in relation to cancer care. Collectively, our providers are carrying significant vacancies and we over-rely on bank and agency staff to fill rotas – as a result the quality of care we offer can sometimes suffer. We have a significant underlying structural deficit and we are not meeting our planned financial position.
Within these many challenges, we are also a system that has high ambitions to improve the health and wellbeing of the population that we serve. We have delivered a number of impressive and long-lasting improvements and have had many successes. This plan will look to continue to build on those positives. It incorporates detailed operational and financial plans for the first year, 2023/24, in line with NHSE guidance, and outlines the ambitions and plans of NHS partners over the coming five years in key areas.
We are committed to continuing to work together to do all that we can to improve outcomes for our local population.