Place is positioned in many systems, and in national policy, as a key building block within ICSs. Trusts see themselves as having important, but varied, roles to play in the partnership arrangements within those places. Their commitment to integrating health and care, and improving population health outcomes, access and experience is an important starting point. But they are also looking to go further and work with system partners to address health inequalities and the wider determinants.
It remains to be seen what the role of places will be in different systems, and how they will relate to the ICB, ICP and provider collaboratives. There are also important questions about how the funding will flow, where previous commissioning functions might be delegated, and what strategic planning responsibilities – such as for workforce or estates – will take place within the system.
As trusts and their partners continue to develop their work in local places, it will be important for the national NHS bodies to avoid implementing any ‘one size fits all’ approaches. For places to flourish, they need a flexible national policy framework. Every trust has a unique contribution to make at place level, and should be supported to seize this opportunity.