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STUC 2013 Perth

Integration must be about care not costs

Lilian Macer
Lilian Macer

Scottish Government moves to integrate health and social care when providing services for older people, should be about improving services not about cutting costs.

The STUC will seek talks with the Scottish Government to demand that public services remain under democratic control and to ensure that any attempts to open up the NHS to privatisation are stopped and that service users and staff are at the heart of decision making.

Congress overwhelmingly supported UNISON’s motion, as Lilian Macer, UNISON Scottish Convenor told delegates that UNISON supports a "seamless provision of health and care pathways with quality as the central plank and principle driving any changes. Quality - not the desire to cut budgets that is at the heart of so many other so called reforms."

The Governments proposals will see the abolition of the current Community Health Partnerships and the introduction of new Community Health and Social Care Partnerships.

"This sounds harmless enough - but these new statutory bodies will be run by a single individual - the Jointly Accountable Officer - responsible for a multi million pound budget of public money", said Lilian.

"Technically accountable to both to both the Local Authority and the Health Board the, so called, Jointly Accountable Officer will in reality be accountable to no one", she added.

"Congress - UNISON , indeed this whole movement, are advocates for efficient, properly funded public services, democratically accountable to local communities. But there is precious little democratic accountability in these proposals.

"We are not opposed to reform - or measures that will make services responsive to the needs of those who use them. But we have enough, sometimes bitter, experience of centrally managed structurally driven, top down changes to know that they seldom deliver on their promises."

For real reform and for effective change for a better service, staff engagement and involvement is essential.

"Real change comes when Staff and service users work together planning how services should be delivered."

This won’t happen in the same way in every locality - so it is vital that any legislation brought forward leaves Health Boards and Councils enough flexibility to determine arrangements and structures that match local needs.

"And most importantly", said Lilian, "ensures that any new structures cannot act as a Trojan horse for a further wave of outsourcing or privatisation of vital public services.

"All evidence shows that top down reorganisation won’t produce real integration. The focus must be on joint outcomes - agreed with local partners And relevant to their local circumstances. The proposals must have at their core the desire to improve services – not cut costs", Lilian told Congress.

17 April 2013

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