Union raises concerns as Suffolk and north-east Essex selected to become Integrated Care System
- Credit: Archant
Radical plans to overhaul health and social care in the region have taken a step forward, but critics fear the public are being left in the dark.
The Suffolk and North East Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) is one of four to be selected by NHS bosses to join the development into an Integrated Care System (ICS).
This marks the next stage in a major reshape of how care is planned and delivered in England.
The ICS will join up all parts of Suffolk and north-east Essex’s health and care system, including NHS organisations, councils and voluntary sector groups.
The new way of working will give local leaders greater operational and financial freedom.
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While those involved in the STP have hailed this announcement as a positive move that will simplify and improve access to services, the trade union Suffolk Unite Community has raised concerns about a lack of transparency with the public.
Member Anthony Dooley said: “How many meetings engaging the public about developments within health and social care have taken place within the STP area? None. The serious point is there’s a democratic deficit here.”
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Mr Dooley also fears the move would lead to privatisation of services, and questions where the accountability would lie.
Nick Hulme, STP leader and chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said: “We want to make it easier for people to access services and to reduce the stress we cause them because of the complex way our different organisations provide services. By going beyond our organisational boundaries, we will better support people to live healthier lives, provide services closer to people’s homes and help patients to stay out of hospital when they do not need to be there.”
STP programme director, Susannah Howard, said as part of the ICS programme, Suffolk and north-east Essex would benefit from additional support, central funding and more flexibility over the way the system operates.
Dr Stephen Dunn, chief executive of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We strongly believe it will bring more efficiencies in how we work but more importantly improve the experience of patients, carers and citizens.”
This new approach is being named: Can Do Health and Care, and includes an ambition to deliver care closer to people’s homes.
During the autumn, clinicians will be visiting locations across Suffolk and north-east Essex to gain people’s views on the changes.