Collaboration and cohesion are key 

Working collaboratively towards better outcomes for all is key to delivering sustainable change in Kent and Medway. 

That was the clear message at this year’s Kent and Medway Integrated Care System (ICS) symposium in Canterbury.

Partners from across our ICS, including the NHS, councils, Kent Police, the voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector and so many more, came together to hear from and challenge one another. 

NHSKM Chief Executive Paul Bentley

Opening the symposium, NHS Kent and Medway’s Chief Executive Paul Bentley said: “We are our best when we learn together and operate cohesively across the public sector in Kent and Medway.

“We are working in challenging times, but it is not an option for us not to do things. The long-term solution is to collaborate. Collaboration for me is where we do sustainable change.”

Symposium delegates heard how through organisations working together, Kent and Medway had seen the number of people experiencing a mental health crisis taken to a section 136 suite reduce by 60 per cent and a 10.5 per cent increase in people going through hypertension tests (blood pressure checks).

Working together to support people in mental health crisis

Kent Police ACC HarmanKent Police’ Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Tracey Harman spoke about the work that had taken place so people in mental health crisis receive the right care from the right person.

ACC Harman said: “Working together on early prevention, advice, assessments and alternative pathways has reduced use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act in Kent and Medway."

Making a difference in communities

Council colleagues from Dover, Sevenoaks, Medway and Ashford, presented on projects already under way, which were making a difference in their communities.

District council presentation photo

Presentations included:

  • an overview of community-based projects in Dover
  • showcasing the Sevenoaks website
  • improving mental wellbeing for children in Medway
  • a community-based health prevention service linked to a housing scheme in Ashford. 

Videos shown 

Two short films highlighted Medway and Swale Health and Care Partnership’s work on improving population health inequalities – working with the community, voluntary and social enterprise (VCSE) sector and Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Team’s Hope Community Arts Fund project and exhibition.  

Improving children's health on Isle of Sheppey.
Hope Community Arts Fund exhibition.

Public Health directors James Williams and Anjan Ghosh presented Kent and Medway’s Integrated Care Strategy, which has been refreshed following listening events with communities across Kent and Medway.

The Integrated Care Strategy has been produced by NHS Kent and Medway, Kent County Council and Medway Council, supported by district councils, Healthwatch organisations and the voluntary sector. 

The strategy looks at how health and care colleagues from the NHS and local councils can work together to make improvements. 

The revised strategy is now going through governance checks before being published. 

Find out more about the Kent and Medway Integrated Care Strategy

Be brave

Hilary CottamGuest speaker change-maker Hilary Cottam called on those present to be brave and be the change within the system, saying: “Tell a new story. Organise horizontally. Create possibility. Be brave.  Be architects of the system that uses resources in a different way.”

Breakout discussions


Breakout discussion groups looked at five key areas in which those at the symposium play a part: 

  1. Developing a healthier economy and population.
  2. From volunteer to career – how to grow the next generation of health and social care professionals.
  3. Giving children and young people the best start in life.
  4. Working alongside the VCSE as part of an effective integrated care system
  5. Health and housing.