Shape the NHS forward plan.jpgEvery ICB is expected to produce a five-year Joint Forward Plan (JFP) which sets out how we will work together with other partners to improve health outcomes, tackle inequalities, make sure we make the most of the money and services we have and help support our local area and communities to develop. 

The shaping of the NHS Joint Forward Plan presented us with an opportunity to work with and hear from local people, our health and care partners, and staff to develop a plan that is locally owned, delivers the national ambitions, and recognises our collective strength in working together to resolve our common challenges.  Crucially, it also gave us an opportunity to bring to life our involvement principles and experiment with what is truly possible when we are bold and brave enough to start with people and communities.

In January 2023, we started a conversation to get your views on key health areas - thank you for getting involved. We're now busy working on feeding in the results to the Plan which will be published later in 2023.

What does the Long Term Plan mean for people in the Black Country?

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We want to help everyone in the Black Country have improved health, now and in the future. The Black Country Integrated Care Board is writing a plan with local NHS Trusts to set out how we will work together with other partners to improve health outcomes, tackle inequalities, make sure we make the most of the money and services we have, and to help support our local area and communities to develop.

In the plan we will describe how we are going to use NHS resources (money and people) to deliver on the NHS targets and requirements set nationally, along with how we will work to meet the health needs of local people.

Whilst we are producing an NHS plan, we are clear that much of this cannot be achieved alone. We are committed to working with partners in Local Authorities, the community and voluntary sector and with other colleagues such as housing, fire and education, to support the aims as described in our systems Integrated Care Strategy.

Ultimately, we want to deliver high quality NHS services, that are there when you need them in a more joined-up, preventative, and person-centred way.

We recognise that health is more than the healthcare system. It is not just about NHS hospitals, doctors or nurses, health is about people’s lives and can be determined by people’s financial and social circumstances. We want to consider all these issues as we write our plan for the next five years.

We want the plan to be informed by you, the local people using our services and those working within them. It is really important that we focus on putting resources and effort into where it is most needed.

The plan is a joint document developed in partnership with NHS organisations in the Black Country (the Black Country Integrated Care Board and our provider NHS Trusts).

The development of this plan is an opportunity for us to work with local people, our health and care partners and staff to develop a plan that is locally owned, delivers the national ambitions and recognises our collective strength in working together to resolve our common challenges.

In addition, the plan will:

  • describe how we intend to use our NHS budget to ensure that local services are of the highest quality and that they meet local need.
  • set out the challenges which we face today and those that we recognise are affecting the future health of local people.
  • give investment to areas to tackle health inequalities.
  • explain how we will support a workforce that is fit for the future and create a system of health and care organisations that are seen as employers of choice.
  • improve quality and outcomes for people who use our services
  • describe how we will support local people with the knowledge and skills to have more choice and control over their own health and care.
  • explain how we will involve local people in decisions which we take moving forwards.
  • show how we will change the way organisations work together moving forwards.  

Read about the conversation we held in January 2023

We achieved the conversation in four phases. The table below describes each phase and what we achieved in that period.

Phase 1

Sep to Oct
Desk research

Phase 2


Phase 3


Phase 4


What do we already know? What have people already told us? Where do we have gaps? Work with CVS to hold grassroots conversations / place-based people panel discussions / Feet on the Street Hold a public conversation on the draft plan and seek input from the  public on key areas to inform the workstreams Publish the plan in a way the public can understand

Oct 2022

Desk research circulated to workstream leads to inform their writing. Include desk research in draft version of plan to set context.

Dec 2022

Include in the draft version of the plan, headlines from listening period on what people think should be our priorities.

Feb 2023

Analysis of feedback provided to the workstream leads to influence the final plan and summary of what we heard included in the involvement section of the plan.

Spring 2023

Publish a summary version and full version of the plan on the ICB website and providers websites. Communications toolkit to support publication


The ICB involvement team recognise the importance of spending time listening to the needs, dreams and priorities of local communities. We do this regularly by spending time sitting with local groups and organisations, trusted voices and faith/community leaders. We host People Panels and Community Conversations where we meet people on their terms and simply listen to what they care deeply about.

Feet on the Street is another of our mechanisms for ensuring the ICB Board are connected to what we’re hearing from the people and communities we talk to each month. In September, we heard views and opinions on what the NHS does well and what needs to improve. And in November we build on what we heard throughout September by asking three core questions that have underpinned the Joint Forward Plan listening period.

  1. What’s worrying you and how will this impact your health now or in the future?
  2. What should the NHS be focussing on, today and in the future?
  3. What steps could health and care leaders take to support people and communities to manage their own health and happiness?

In addition, with the support of Voluntary and Community Sector (VCSE) partners working with and supporting underserved communities, we launched and awarded a small grants scheme to more than 25 local organisations who each hosted their own community conversations in which they asked people the above three questions and fed back to us. The scheme was intended to be hosted by VCSE partners in a way that worked for them, and we had awardees who hosted budget friendly cooking lessons, arts and crafts sessions and coffee mornings. We were also keen to hear from young people and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust Youth Forum kindly hosted a discussion to seek the views of their members.

We are extremely grateful to our VCSE and Healthwatch partners for their support in ensuring people were able to have their say and to everyone who took the time to contribute.

In January 2023, we launched a public conversation during which, we hosted a survey to enable as many people from across the Black Country to have their say on how future plans should be shaped. The survey focused on key areas such as planned care, primary care, urgent and emergency care, mental health, digital and health inequalities. The document which supported the public conversation was available in a range of alternative formats including other languages, easy read, large print, and an audio recording.

We were kindly supported throughout January by local partners who shared the survey with their networks, promoted the ways in which people could have their say on social media and via email. The ICB involvement team were hosted at more than 25 warm hubs across the Black Country and by a range of community groups working with a cross-section of our people and communities who helped them fill in the survey and have their say on the plan.

In addition, we also gave participants at local People Panels the opportunity to take part in the conversation and fill in the survey and take hard copies away to any groups they may be involved in or support.

A total of 1,178 completed the survey, which as a sample size of the Black Country population gives us a margin of error of 2.86%. This means that if we were to repeat the survey 100 times, the results would be 2.86% on either side of the results we have received.

The results from the involvement exercises were sent directly to those writing the Joint Forward Plan. The approach we took, coupled with the low margin of error, should give authors enormous confidence in setting priorities and plans which are rooted in what matters most to local people and communities.

The plan will be in chapters, setting out our plans in key areas. We developed a survey that will help those writing the plan to understand the importance of these issues for local people. Key areas covered in the plan are listed in the pink drop-down menus.

By diagnostics we mean things like x-rays and MRI scans. These are tools we use to decide if patients have a disease or injury which may require treatment.

Planned care is what we say when we mean a treatment which is planned, such as operations for hips and knees.

This area of the plan will look at how we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that the capacity is there to meet future health needs. It will also ensure any treatment needs are identified in a timely way.

The NHS diagnoses and treats thousands of people each year with cancer. Detecting and treating cancer early is important. We know that waiting for any cancer diagnosis can also be an extremely worrying time. This area of the plan will look at how we get the right services in place to ensure people can be seen quickly.

When you need us most, the local NHS needs to be there to respond. We need services which are designed for meeting the needs of local people today and into the future and which will reduce the demand on hospital emergency departments. This area of the plan will look at how we do that.

Supporting people to stay out of hospital is key and this area of the plan will describe the services we need to do this more. It will also focus on the way we support people to get home from hospital as quickly and safely as possible.

A long-term condition is an illness that cannot be cured but can be controlled by medication and therapies. Conditions such as respiratory illnesses, diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease. More and more people are living with more than one long term health condition so it is important that we set out how we will prevent, treat and work with people to manage their health.

Preventing ill health is better than treating it and our growing and ageing population means that without good prevention we will see an increasing number of people needing NHS care. In this section we will describe our work to prevent ill health in the Black Country, along with setting out how we will focus on reducing the inequalities in access and health outcomes for our communities.

Personalised care is one of the changes to the NHS set out in the Long Term Plan that represents a different relationship between people, professionals and the health and care system. It is designed to have a positive shift in the decision-making process, enabling people to have choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered. This section will include plans for personalised care approaches such as personal health budgets, health coaching and social prescribing.

In this section we will describe the work underway to improve access to high quality primary care services (GPs, Dental, Pharmacy, Optometry).

Making it safer than ever to have a baby is an area of focus for us. Supporting mothers, babies and families during pregnancy and birth is so important. This section of the plan will describe our work in this area.

This section will describe the work underway in this area and the partnerships that are vital for us to achieve the aim of improved services and life opportunities for children and young people.

Creating a Black Country where people have more say over their care and supporting them to live well in their communities is key. Services for people to live in the community, get support in a crisis, and being there when they need information and guidance is important. This section will describe how we hope to improve services in this area.

The NHS has made a commitment to be greener. In this section you will read about how we are creating a Greener NHS, playing our part in protecting the planet and improving climate change.

We will explain in this section how we are using digital solutions to improve services but also how we are working with communities to support them to adopt and understand digital options.

We know that for us to thrive we need to look after our workforce and become a place where people want to work. This section will set out our plans to do this and identify the areas of workforce that we need to grow to meet future need.

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