By Graham Smith
Cornwall Council’s cabinet today (Wednesday) voted 7-1, with one abstention, to proceed with plans for integrating health and social care. The decision starts a process which could eventually lead to a single new structure, which has become known as Kennally Care, with the council’s chief executive Kate Kennally in overall charge.
The cabinet portfolio holder for health, councillor Rob Rotchell, successfully steered through recommendations which he said were not for an Accountable Care Organisation (or System) but which he still described as “Option 6” – a reference to the council’s Inquiry Panel recommendation, which had been in favour of an Accountable Care System.
The confusion, which is still not resolved, centres around the way health and council budgets will be either “aligned” or “pooled.” The ambition is currently to integrate and align budgets on a service-by-service basis, but Ms Kennally has declared that she would like to see a complete merging of budgets and a single “one place, one organisation” health commissioning body in place by September.
Claims that a single, pooled budget would be illegal are to be tested at a Leeds High Court Judicial Review next month.
Mr Rotchell said progress towards this goal required all partners, including health organisations, to be happy that they were passing through “gateways” – but not all cabinet members were convinced.
Dissident cabinet members Bob Egerton and Andrew Mitchell
Dissenting members included two of the five Independents, councillors Bob Egerton and Andrew Mitchell.
Mr Egerton said he feared the government was trying to “offload” responsibility for health onto local authorities, and that it would never be properly funded. “The National Health Service is a national service, and it is not something we can do,” he said.
Mr Mitchell said he was worried the drive for integration stemmed from the government’s desire to slash NHS spending. “I don’t think this journey is in the right direction,” he said.