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An ambitious programme of work that brings together health and social care partners in Portsmouth, including Portsmouth City Council and the NHS, has been highlighted as best practice by the UK Government.

Portsmouth’s pioneering approach to integration through Health and Care Portsmouth is referenced in the Government white paper on health and social care integration, which sets out a vision for joined-up NHS and social care services in England.

The paper outlines the benefits to staff and patients around better care through the introduction of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to improve the links between health and social care.

As part of an explanation on models already operating, the paper said: “Health and care leaders in Portsmouth – including Portsmouth City Council, NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, Solent NHS Trust, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance and local voluntary sector organisations – developed a blueprint setting out their ambition for integrated services.

“This Portsmouth Blueprint had at its heart the principle that first comes the person and family being cared for, then comes the team, and only after that comes the organisation. Partners have made extensive use of co-location to bring teams together, with the chief operating officer of Solent NHS Trust (which provides community and mental health services across Portsmouth, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Hampshire) being first to work from within the city council’s headquarters.

“The civic offices now accommodate community nursing and social care, the learning disability service, health visiting, 0-19 young people’s services, and school nursing for the centre and south of the city. As part of this, they will explore the role that family hubs can play in bringing together services in the community to support families.”

Since 2015, organisations involved in Health and Care Portsmouth have combined their knowledge and expertise to improve support for vulnerable people in the community across a range of different services including health visiting, school nursing and learning disability support.

Health and Care Portsmouth’s vision is to support people to live healthy, safe and independent lives by offering health and social care services that are joined up and provided in the right place, at the right time.

David Williams, Chief Executive of Portsmouth City Council, said: “We’re very supportive of the intent of much of the white paper and the commitment to make integrated health and social care a reality for everyone across England regardless of their condition or where they live.

“We have already achieved a huge amount through the integrated Health and Care Portsmouth initiative, and it is encouraging to see this referenced in the paper. The emphasis the paper gives to greater data sharing across agencies and delegation of health budgets to local council geographies is also encouraging.

“Portsmouth City Council has a close working relationship with the local NHS, voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector. This puts us in a strong position to realise the vision set out in the white paper, provided there is a determination by the NHS to avoid centralisation.

“We work closely locally, understanding local needs and designing services to meet them. We will continue to work closely with our colleagues across the wider hospital footprint and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight geography of the new Integrated Care System, where that is the most appropriate scale.”

Andy Biddle, Director of Adult Social Services for Portsmouth City Council, said: “The integration white paper comes at the right time as it confirms the way that we are working and encourages us to go further in working at place, with all of Portsmouth’s health and care services serving our Portsmouth residents together.

“Shared local outcomes, shared local leadership and aligned financial goals is the way we have been working in Portsmouth. The encouragement to invest in our joint workforce and build on our use of intelligence and technology to improve lives is welcome and we look forward to developing the place of Portsmouth as part of our Integrated Care System.”

The Integration White Paper builds on both the Health and Social Care Bill and the People at the Heart of Care White Paper, which was announced in December.

The Health and Social Care Bill is currently making its way through Parliament.


Health and Care Portsmouth is made up of the following organisations:

  • Portsmouth City Council
  • NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group
  • HIVE Portsmouth
  • Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance
  • Solent NHS Trust
  • Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust

Some recent examples of how integrated care has provided a better service for staff and patients in Portsmouth include:

  • Partners in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire worked closely throughout the winter to manage and limit the pressure on the NHS and the impact of that on local residents. Health and care providers worked together on a campaign to reduce demand at Portsmouth Hospital University NHS Trust’s Emergency Department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, increasing timeliness in daily discharges from hospital, and encouraging people to self-care at home where possible.
  • Local NHS providers, along with Portsmouth City Council, have worked together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and deliver a successful vaccination programme. Currently, pop-up clinics are being organised across Portsmouth to deliver more vaccines to areas of lower uptake. There are also a number of clinics across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to help patients suffering from Long Covid.
  • Portsmouth City Council and Solent NHS Trust have been working together to support people needing help to leave the hospital. In Portsmouth, social workers, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other professionals are working together with people in hospital to understand their immediate needs. Once ready to be discharged, they can then leave hospital in a timely way, getting the care and support they need, while spending as little time in hospital as possible once ready to leave.
  • Portsmouth has a dedicated integrated Children’s Commissioning Team sitting across Portsmouth City Council and Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, working with families and providers to design and deliver effective services and pathways for physical and mental health of children and young people.

This has been possible through appointing single lead roles across health and care that can ensure health and social care act as one, using the right resources at the right time to the benefit of the citizen.