23rd January 2018
By Graham Smith
Cornwall Council can go ahead and take over commissioning for the National Health Service on 1st April without a full council debate, the Liberal Democrat-Independent administration ruled today (Tuesday.)
The majority coalition voted for an amendment which instead relies on the routine schedule of scrutiny meetings and leaves the decision in the hands of the 10-member cabinet. The full council will only be allowed to debate any Accountable Care System, or Accountable Care Organisation, once it has been running in shadow form.
Several councillors spoke in support of a Labour motion which would have required a full council debate before 1st April. They said it was vital for the council to “take the public with us” on such an important issue. But an amendment proposed by Independent councillor Armand Toms, who chairs the health scrutiny committee, was carried on a show of hands.
The effect of the amendment is that the council is unlikely to get any opportunity for debate, or vote, until September – after the ACO/ACS has been running for several months. Mr Toms urged councillors who were interested in the issue to turn up for the relevant committee meetings.
The decision is a victory for council and health officials, who can now proceed according to their original timetable. The council actually signed the contract to set up an ACO/ACS in December.
Critics of the ACO/ACS model of healthcare fear it marks the break-up of the National Health Service, as it will present a distinctly different method of governance to that in many other parts of Britain.
Many are worried it creates greater opportunities for privatisation, and signals executive authority for closing up to 10 Minor Injury Units, with consequences for several community hospitals.
Some wags have dubbed the new system “Kennally Care” after the council’s chief executive Kate Kennally, who will be in overall charge of commissioning health services in Cornwall.