Second Wave of Collaborative Learning Programme for Integrated Care Systems Announced by Inclusion Health Charity Pathway. Expansion of the programme follows success of the first cohort and the resulting report on the potential of ICSs to improve outcomes for excluded groups.

  • Building on the success of our first collaboration, which concluded in Spring 2023, Pathway is now pleased to launch a second opportunity for ICSs to join this ground-breaking action-learning programme, in partnership with NHS England and Groundswell.  
  • Work with the first cohort of ICSs led to the publication of the ground-breaking Pockets of Excellence report, which set out a practical roadmap to drive change in inclusion health and improve outcomes for people who experience health inequality and exclusion. 
  • Announcement of this second phase follows the publication of NHS England’s first National Framework for NHS action on Inclusion Health. The framework sets out five key principles to inform ICS action on inclusion health to support systems to execute their statutory health inequalities duties and deliver NHS operational planning guidance.   
  • With funding from NHS England and delivered in partnership with homeless charity Groundswell, teams from seven ICSs will be invited to explore how to move towards a sustainable, whole-system-approach to tackling the extreme health inequalities experienced by excluded populations. 
  • Expressions of interest in the programme open on Friday 26th January, and applications will be accepted until midnight on Friday 16th February. 

People in inclusion health populations, which include people experiencing homelessness, vulnerable migrants, people engaged in sex work, those leaving prison and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities, often experience extremely poor health outcomes. Studies show dramatically higher morbidity, comorbidity and mortality rates compared to the general population. 42% of English Gypsies live with a long-term health condition, whilst getting registered with a GP without an address remains a major challenge. Furthermore, the most recent ONS statistics show that the average age at death for people experiencing homeless was just 45 years old for men and 43 years old for women.  

Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), with legal duties to address health inequalities and the power to create joined-up health and care services, have huge potential to radically improve outcomes for these populations. Recognising this, and in partnership with lived experience charity Groundswell, Pathway ran a collaborative learning programme from September 2022 to March 2023with seven ICSs from across England. The sessions brought together clinical experts from the NHS, housing and social care, sharing evidence-based good practice as well as their perspectives on how to achieve change in spite of the challenging realities facing the system overall.  

The subsequent report presented learning and recommendations from the collaboration, alongside suggested steps to help local systems build an evidence-based inclusion health route-map. Coupled with the recent publication of NHS England’s Inclusion Health Framework, there is a real opportunity for systems to tackle these most extreme health inequalities for good. Pathway is delighted, with the support of NHS England, to invite a new cohort of seven ICS partners to join the next phase of the programme.    

With ongoing support from NHS England, and in partnership with lived experience led organisation Groundswell, the second phase will kick-off this Spring. It will consist of six online and in-person sessions spread over a four-month programme. Once again it will be shaped by lived experience experts, sector leaders, and community organisations working to tackle health and other inequalities. Recognising that a whole-system approach is crucial to sustained success, the programme explores a wide variety of building blocks and levers to change, acknowledging the obstacles and opportunities to improving care and outcomes at scale. Alongside the group sessions, 1:1 coaching is also offered to participating ICSs to enable them to realise or establish local priorities for inclusion health by integrating learning from the programme.  

Colleagues from ICSs who are interested in joining the programme can complete the brief expression of interest form here. Please feel also free to contact us at if you would like to chat about the programme before making an application.  

You may also wish to sign up to the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health’s System Leaders and Managers subnetwork. The Faculty is a multi-disciplinary national professional network hosted by Pathway and focused on care for excluded groups. It’s dedicated System Leaders and Managers subnetwork meets quarterly to share good practice and offer mutual support. You can join here or by emailing

People in inclusion health groups, such as those experiencing homelessness, are most at risk of health inequalities and face particular challenges with accessing healthcare. That is why our framework for NHS action on inclusion health sets out the practical steps that integrated care systems and partners can take to better serve groups that face social exclusion, building on good practice that is already evident.

NHS England is delighted to be supporting the work of this important learning programme for integrated care systems, helping to put the NHS inclusion health framework into action, and fulfil the promise of integrated services.

Professor Bola Owolabi, Director of National Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Programme, NHS England,

Participation in the first cohort of the programme helped us to fully understand the potential of evidence-based, whole-system approaches to inclusion health that encompass housing, social care and all the other factors that impact upon an individual’s ability to live a happy, healthy life. It was also hugely valuable to be able to link up with other ICSs, learn about the innovative work that they are doing, and realise the scope of what we can achieve when harnessing our collective efforts to address these common challenges.

Jon Pritchard, Associate Director of Housing and Community Inclusion, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, and participant in the first phase of the programme

We have already seen, from the first phase of this programme, the enthusiasm and abundance of excellent practice that exists across the system on how to provide good inclusion health services. The goal is now to build on this momentum, grow the number of ICSs involved in this shared movement for change, and work together to create an even fuller picture of how to replicate local success across the board.

Alex Bax, CEO of Pathway