Health authorities have moved swiftly to scotch claims of ‘secrecy’ and ‘privatisation’ over an integrated care system in Devon.

Dr Nick Roberts, chief officer of Devon's two CCGs, says the integrated care system process has been open and transparent. Picture: NEW Devon CCGDr Nick Roberts, chief officer of Devon's two CCGs, says the integrated care system process has been open and transparent. Picture: NEW Devon CCG

Proposals for an integrated care system – with the NHS and county councils working together to provide better joined up care – were being debated at the health scrutiny committee of Devon County Council today (Thursday).

But the CCG has said there are no plans to form a new merged system in Devon from April 1 – which was previously reported by the Gazette based on claims by health campaigners from save Our Hospital Services (SOHS).

The CCG said how it works is commissioners and providers of acute hospital and community services, primary care, mental health and social care will work increasingly in partnership to plan, finance and run services.

They said from the patient’s point of view, they will see a more joined-up health and social care system that works for them.

Their care – however simple or complex – is planned, with the council, CCGs, hospitals and GPs all working together to that same plan.

Dr Nick Roberts, chief officer at Devon’s two Clinical Commissioning Groups, said he was keen to reassure people that ‘this is a fully open process in line with national policy’.

He said: “It is important to be clear that no new organisation is about to be set up, secretly or otherwise,” he said.

“We have been working with our partners openly and transparently to ensure that services work in an integrated and seamless way and this has been subject to scrutiny by our regulators and local authorities.

“We understand that the language around this is sometimes confusing – for example, integrated care systems were previously referred to as Accountable Care Organisations - but, simply put, an integrated care system simply means working together and that is quite clearly what we have been doing for some time.

“It’s about services working better and more flexibly to meet the needs of people, not organisational boundaries.”

‘Openly shared’

In response to claims of a lack of consultation, Dr Roberts said details had been subject to public scrutiny since last year through council overview and scrutiny committees and health and wellbeing boards.

He said they had openly shared information which is also widely available from other parts of the NHS and independent experts such as the King’s Fund.

The two CCGs in Devon say they have been working increasingly closely together to share best practice and avoid duplication - saving almost £4million in management and back office costs in the past year – for the benefit of patient care.

“There is no question of secrecy or privatisation,” said Dr Roberts.

“It is national policy that working together to provide a more seamless health and care system, so that patients are not caught up between different organisations, is the best way to deliver modern, sustainable healthcare.

“A first wave of Integrated Care Systems was approved by NHS England last year and these are already up and running.”