A row over a proposed new system of merging health and social care for Devon is set to break out at County Hall tomorrow (Thursday).
An integrated care system (ICS) is being brought in by North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) and Devon County Council.
The idea behind it is for the NHS and social care providers to work together to provide better ‘joined up’ health care for patients.
The CCG has also said there is no new organisation or care system starting in Devon on April 1, despite those claims from health campaigners.
But there are fears for what the new system will mean, with opponents saying there has been no information about ICSs – formerly known as accountable care systems (ACSs) – and no public consultation.
Liberal Democrat county councillors have called it in to an emergency meeting of the council’s health scrutiny committee tomorrow after they said it appeared the DCC cabinet would pass it.
They will put their questions to a CCG representative who will be at the meeting, together with members of Save Our Hospital Services who are travelling to Exeter by coach to add their voices.
Barnstaple county councillor Brian Greenslade said they had been ‘starved of information’ about the plans and there had been no time to properly scrutinise them.
He added: “I am troubled by the way this project appears to being rushed through the council.
“The principle of integrated health and social care is something that I can endorse. However the way opposition councillors have been starved of information is of concern.”
Nationally there are fears proposed ACOs (accountable care organisations) that hold budgets for a population, could lead to an American style health system or privatisation.
SOHS campaigners fear the same for Devon, saying an ICS system could be brought in without consultation.
But a statement on the CCG website says it is ‘when organisations work together in a shared way; sharing budgets, staff, resources where appropriate, to best meet people’s needs.
‘What it’s not is a creation of a new organisation or ‘privatisation by the back door’.
Spokesperson Sue Matthews said: “ICSs will still have to operate under the conditions of austerity and cost-cutting, but the public have not been given a clue about their legal structure and obligations, about leadership or about how the funding system might work. From what we do know, it is beginning to look as if they could be run along the lines of a private business, protected from public scrutiny and without the accountability to central government which has been a cornerstone of the NHS.”