Explaining the MoU between the VCSE Sector and ICB

Author: Sian Dickie

This blog will explore the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which has been facilitated by the VCSE Partnership Programme to underpin the relationship between the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector and the Integrated Care Board (ICB). This blog will highlight what the MoU is, the current timeline for completion and how you can get involved.  

What is our Memorandum of Understanding? 

Our Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) intends to formally acknowledge the relationship between our sectors and set out values that govern the way we interact with each other. It sets out a range of principles and values. 

Formally, our MoU “is a written understanding between partners setting out initial principles which will ensure the VCSE sector is integrated and embedded in system level governance, decision-making and service provision arrangements in the North East and North Cumbria to collaboratively deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes for the 3 million people who live here.” (Draft MoU, 2022 – view full document here) 

Why do we need an MoU? 

Statutory Integrated Care System (ICS) guidance states that “All ICBs should have a formal agreement to work with the VCSE sector in governance and decision-making, building on their existing involvement in place and neighbourhood level forums, and where they have well-established relationships with other NHS organisations and partnerships such as Cancer Alliances. This agreement should consider the role of infrastructure organisations including the new VCSE Alliances or leadership groups that can bring strategic voice to governance of ICSs.” (Working in Partnership with People and Communities: Statutory guidance, NHS, 2023 – view full document here 

What happened previously and recent developments  

Last year, the Partnership Programme facilitated the creation of MoU between the ICB and the VCSE sector, with all VCSE organisations invited to contribute. This was due to be signed off by the ICB earlier this year, however due to other pressures on the ICB, including contracting issues, the implementation of place-based arrangements and the announcement that all ICBs need to make 30% reduction in operational costs, this was postponed. 

Since that time, there have been developments in national guidance for ICSs in relation to their relationship with the VCSE sector, which the Partnership Programme has helped to develop. Our ICS has also changed significantly in the last year. ICB Chief Executive Sam Allen has acknowledged the importance of having an MoU that reflects these changes, and at the December Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) meeting it was confirmed that the MoU will be signed off by the ICB at their March board meeting, with an additional presentation at the next ICP meeting in June to ensure it is embedded throughout ICS structures. 

So far, the review of the MoU has been discussed at our Programme Executive Group and via our Multi-Agency Steering Group for comment. 

The timeline 
  • November 2023 – February 2024: Formal review process, including full consultation with the VCSE sector and 'explainer' sessions about national guidance. 
  • March 2024: MoU agreed at ICB board meeting. 
  • April 2024: Public signing of MoU by ICB Chief Executive Sam Allen and ICB Chair Professor Sir Liam Donaldson. 
  • The MoU will also be ratified at each 'place' within our ICS to ensure it is embedded at all levels of working across the whole system. 
How can you get involved?  

We will be hosting two sessions about the MoU which will help you to understand and navigate guidance and further comment on the MoU itself.  

Information Session: Government Guidance for ICS/VCSE relationships 

Monday, 15th January 2024 at 3pm – 4pm. 

This Information Session will aim to explain some of the guidance for ICSs in relation to their relationship with the VCSE sector. This includes information about guidance that was used to create the original MoU, as well as additional guidance that has been released this year. 

Workshop: MoU discussion and feedback 

Tuesday, 6th February 2024, 2pm - 3.30pm. 

This online workshop is for those who would like to discuss, share views and give feedback about the content of the MoU. 

If you are unable to attend but would like to feedback or if you have any queries about the Memorandum of Understanding, please contact Lisa Taylor, Health and Wellbeing Programme Director at Lisa.Taylor@vonne.org.uk or Siobhan Flynn, North East and North Cumbria VCSE Engagement Manager at Siobhan.Flynn@vonne.org.uk