County councillors have voted to approve closer working between health and social care services.

On Wednesday Devon County Council’s cabinet approved the development of an integrated care system in conjunction with Northern, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

It said the idea was to bring organisations closer together where appropriate to share services, budgets, staff and resources to provide a better service for Devon residents.

But health campaigners from Save Our Hospital Services Devon have accused the council of ‘a lack of democracy’ after it overturned recommendations from its health scrutiny committee to defer the plans.

The scrutiny committee had concerns over how the new system would be governed, a lack of public consultation and had called for assurances it would not lead to ‘deeper cuts’ to services.

A report to cabinet said the system would be formed of a single integrated strategic commissioner, a number of local care partnerships, a mental health care partnership and shared NHS corporate services.

The CCG had previously told the Gazette that 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.

SOHS campaigners have said they fear it could be the start of an ‘American style’ system but the CCG has said there is ‘no question’ of privatisation.

At the cabinet meeting, Barnstaple county councillor Brian Greenslade said: “The principles of ICS I have not got an issue with, I think that’s the way to go – what I have an issue with is the speed that it’s suddenly appearing on the agenda.”

Sue Matthews of SOHS challenged DCC and the CCG to debate it at a public meeting. She said: “I am appalled at the lack of scrutiny as exercised by this cabinet decision. The CCG are obliged to carry out public consultation before effecting major changes. This rush to adopt an American style of management structure is fraught with dangers and the unwillingness to answer basic questions.”

Previously, Dr Nick Roberts, chief officer at Devon’s two CCGs, had said this was a ‘fully open process in line with national policy’.

He said it was: “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.”