Cornwall’s Disintegrating Care Partnership – the wheels start to fall off Kennally Care, as even the Liberal Democrats start to talk about Section 30 referrals
Posted By Julia Penhaligon on 27th February 2019
Oakleigh House, a unique respite centre, near Menheniot, has since 2002 been funded 50-50 by Cornwall Council and NHS Kernow clinical commissioning group under what are known as Section 75 budget pooling arrangements. The new projected Integrated Care Partnership, based on previous Accountable Care Organisation models, is intended to bring health and social services even closer together under a single Shaping Our Future budget.
NHS Kernow has said there is no scope for maintaining Oakleigh House because it does not fit with the organisation’s five-year-plan. But Cornwall councillors are furious that as co-sponsors of the commissioned service they have had no opportunity to even debate the issue. “If this is integration, then God help us,” said one councillor. “Section 75s have been working fine. What’s replacing it is all spit and no polish.”
The closure of Oakleigh, with no public consultation, has led to renewed suggestions that the entire future vision how Cornwall’s health service should be run is not fit for purpose – and that at least some aspects of it should be referred to the Secretary of State.
Cornwall councillor Colin Martin, a Liberal Democrat who has previously been one of the most enthusiastic apostles of the Kennally Care project, told BBC Radio Cornwall’s Laurence Reed today (Wednesday) that the loss of service was so significant that the committee of which he is vice chairman should consider referring it to Whitehall.
The committee is due to meet on 13th March and it would be surprising if councillors are not met by protestors, furious at County Hall’s apparent indifference to the loss of health services.
Oakleigh’s contract is due to expire on 31st March and Mr Martin admitted he had known about it since before Christmas. Mr Martin today told the BBC that he has previously tried to raise his concerns about the impact of Oakleigh’s closure but had been frustrated by administrative mix-ups.
One of the measures available to the Health & Adult Social Care scrutiny committee is what is known as a Section 30 Referral – which would force health secretary Matt Hancock to intervene and make a final ruling.
Another Liberal Democrat councillor, Bodmin’s Jacquie Gammon, has also said she was worried about the loss of service and has agitated for it to be debated on 13thMarch. There are new signs that Cornwall’s health community is heading for its most serious dispute with County Hall since its original Sustainability and Transformation Plan was branded “not fit for purpose” nearly two years ago.
At the same time, the overnight closure of the Minor Injuries Unit at Bude-Stratton has sharpened attention of what health bosses really mean when they say that any loss of service is only “temporary.” Having said originally that the Bude-Stratton MIU closure was due to staffing difficulties, health bosses are now claiming that local population density is insufficient to justify the cost.
Above: Oakleigh House, due to close before 31st March with no consultation; below: Cornwall Lib Dem councillors Colin Martin and Jackie Gammon. Are they angry enough to refer the loss of service to the Secretary of State?
Above: Conservative councillor Andy Virr, who led an inquiry which endorsed County Hall’s vision for Accountable Care, was once even more enthusiastic about his local Fowey hospital. He made this video for his 2017 election campaign. “Hospitals such as these should be urgently re-opened,” he said. In 2017.
Pressure is now growing for the Bude loss of service – together with the “temporary” closures of Minor Injury Units at Saltash and Fowey, the Bodmin Treatment Centre, and 12 community beds at Edward Hain hospital, St Ives – to also be referred under Section 30.
Some councillors have told Cornwall Reports they were not aware that they had statutory “watchdog” powers and felt the time had now come to make a stand against the “stealth” closure of local health facilities. They say they have no objection to the replacement of Victorian-era facilities, but want new, alternative services in place before NHS “providers” can wriggle out of their contractual obligations.