Cornwall councillors still in the dark
about “Kennally Care” and plans for NHS takeover
15th December 2017
By Graham Smith
The first of the “Inquiry Panel” hearings to look into Cornwall Council’s plans to take over the NHS is due to meet at County Hall on Tuesday, as local councillors across England are coming under pressure to reject the idea.
Health campaigners 999 Call For The NHS are lobbying councillors and urging them to refer the proposals to the Secretary of State, rather than endorse recommendations from local officials. The campaign group has produced an advice note for councillors. You can download and read it here:cllrs-rough-guide-to-acss_final_999
With many Cornwall councillors complaining that they have been poorly briefed on the proposals, the six-member Inquiry Panel is due to make recommendations to an extraordinary meeting of the Health & Social Care scrutiny meeting in January.
The time-frame for their deliberations is very tight, and will be punctuated by Christmas and New Year. Nevertheless, the January H&SC meeting will make a recommendation to the 7th February cabinet meeting, which in turn is due to agree to the establishment of an Accountable Care System, in shadow form, by April.
“I’m still very much in the dark about what’s going on,” one councillor from the ruling Liberal Democrat-Independent administration told Cornwall Reports. “I’m always suspicious when the officials try to rush something through like this.
“There has clearly not been adequate scrutiny so far. I don’t understand the rush. Why have we got to vote on this in February? Personally I’d rather wait and see what happens elsewhere. And then there’s the legal challenges. Why don’t we just hold off and see where the evidence goes?”
Although council chiefs claim they are not “taking over” the NHS in Cornwall, they agree that once the ACS is established that they will then sit at the top of a new structure, commissioning services from a merged partnership of the existing NHS health trusts.
Council leader Adam Paynter was questioned about the shake-up at a Community Network Panel meeting in Camelford, with one member of the audience coining the phrase “Kennally Care” (after council chief executive Kate Kennally, who will become the Single Commissioner) to describe the ACS. Officials at County Hall fear the label, if not the new structure, might become popular.
Mr Paynter told Cornwall Reports he did not yet know enough about the new system to be confident that it would be good for Cornwall. He insisted that elected councillors, and not the chief executive, would decide.
But warning that universal healthcare, free at the point of delivery, is under threat, 999 Call For The NHS says: “The ground is already being prepared.
“On 30th November, the NHS England Board agreed that the Secretary of State would consult on changes to the NHS Mandate, since they say the NHS canʼt afford to go on doing everything it does. The Mandate spells out what NHS services the government will provide.”
Government consultation on the NHS Mandate is actually routine but Treasury demands for billions of pounds in savings have made many NHS professionals extremely nervous.
The Accountable Care System now proposed for Cornwall stems from the 18-month-long Sustainability and Transformation Plan process, whose board meetings have been closed to public scrutiny. There is widespread suspicion that the board now has detailed plans for the closure, and sale, of many NHS assets in Cornwall, particularly community hospitals.
Several councillors have told Cornwall Reports they did not know the idea for Cornwall’s new structure came from a private firm of United States business consultants, who drew up the plans in a series of secret meetings earlier this year. A year ago the Kings Fund think tank, which is generally supportive of government plans for Accountable Care, said NHS managers had been instructed not to reveal their proposals until they were ready to be implemented, even to the point of refusing to answer Freedom of Information questions.