Hitting the ground running: The first 100 days
Hitting the ground running: The first 100 days

Addressing England’s cardiovascular disease emergency – learnings from the new ICS five-year plans

Words by:
Account Manager
November 30, 2023

England’s Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) have published their five-year joint forward plans, setting out Integrated Care Boards (ICB)-led priorities to tackle physical and mental health challenges being faced in their populations. We are summarising the key priorities of ICS’s in a series of articles, based on data revealed in our interactive map. This map is free to use, supporting better engagement and collaboration with all stakeholders in the healthcare community – industry, patient organisations, and the NHS.

Here, we focus on ICS five-year plans tackling cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Cardiovascular disease continues to be a top priority

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the top priority in almost two-thirds of ICS plans, second only to cancer, and every ICS has identified it as one of their top priority clinical areas. And rightly so. CVD affects around 7.6 million people in the UK and is a significant cause of disability and death. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CVD-related excess deaths have spiralled and although we are seeing signs of recovery year on year – the number of deaths involving CVD has remained higher than expected.

So, what are the key approaches being taken to tackle CVD across the nation for the next 5 years? Prevention, targeting inequalities, moving care into the community, identifying risk, and using digital technologies.

Prevention. Every ICS emphasised the importance of CVD prevention. Most plans pledge to tackle modifiable risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, and inactivity. Case example: The Humber and Yorkshire ICB CVD Prevention and Detection Plan 2022-24 covers primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention tactics for CVD, in addition to proposed methods for risk stratification and early identification.

Targeting inequalities. People living in England’s most deprived areas are almost four times more likely to die prematurely of CVD than those in the least deprived areas. So it’s reassuring to see Core20PLUS5 features in every plan and that many ICS plans are tailoring community interventions to help those most deprived. Case example: Dudley is launching a mobile Healthy Hearts Hub to empower residents to manage their own CVD health and will be moving throughout the area to reach the most deprived communities.

Community services. Many ICSs propose to increase care in the community for people with CVD, reducing demand on hospitals and reaching more patients. Some plan to achieve this through Community Pharmacies and Neighbourhood teams, others through digital engagement. Case example: Black Country is expanding community pharmacy blood pressure services and further embedding personalised care at that level through Health and Wellbeing Coaches as part of the Healthy Hearts Project.

Identifying risk. Optimal management of cross-cutting risk factors like high blood pressure and high lipids, to prevent CVD, or diagnose and treat people earlier. In many ICBs, cardiac pathway reforms are being proposed to enable this shift. Case example: Suffolk and Northeast Essex is encouraging the use of Accelerated Access Collaborative pathways to simplify lipid management and encourage adherence to national guidance for optimal management of patients at high risk of CVD.

Digital technologies. Many plans emphasise the monitoring, treatment, and detection of patients with CVD-related conditions, tying into the imperative around community care. This is tied to a much broader drive to scale tech innovation in the NHS whereby each ICB has laid out an extensive digital strategy. Case example: Mid and South Essex is continuing with the successful national pilot BP@home, where residents are self-monitoring blood pressure; they are also rolling out mobile heart monitors allowing people to detect, monitor and manage heart arrhythmias.

What does this mean for industry?

  • Partnership between ICSs and industry has the potential to change the lives of millions of people around the UK living with CVD.
  • CVD remains an important focus for ICSs and there are opportunities for industry to support local approaches, drive innovation, upscale successes and help improve service delivery.
  • The establishment of ICSs promises to motivate uptake of new treatments and technologies, support the reduction of health inequalities, and deliver socioeconomic benefits across the country.

We hope you found this useful – if you would like to discuss in more detail, please get in touch.

Further reading:

Five key takeaways: Engaging with ICS priorities panel session

Engaging with Integrated Care Systems priorities

What the new integrated care model means for specialised services


About WA Communications

WA Communications is an integrated strategic communications and public affairs consultancy. Our specialist health practice supports clients across a diverse range of diseases at the intersection of policy, government affairs and communications, to achieve their strategic objectives.

If you would like to discuss how to best work in partnership with Integrated Care Systems, and our analysis of their key areas of focus, contact Lloyd Tingley at


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