Hunt halts ACOs – so, what now, Cornwall Council?

Hunt halts ACOs – so, what now, Cornwall Council?

From Deborah Hopkins
24th January 2018

Cornwall’s Labour Party supporters and health campaigners have welcomed the government’s decision to halt the roll-out of Accountable Care Organisations, which had threatened to break-up the National Health Service and lead to more privatisation.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today (Wednesday) bowed to public pressure and agreed that Accountable Care should now be subject to proper consultation, and scrutiny by a Parliamentary Select Committee, before making any further progress.

In Cornwall, Accountable Care would mean Cornwall Council taking over strategic commissioning of healthcare from NHS Kernow from 1st April.

Cornwall Labour Party is now urging the council – which only yesterday insisted that Accountable Care was so urgent there was not even time for councillors to debate it – to confirm that it will not now go ahead with its proposals to launch the new scheme. The council is due to hold another of its “Inquiry Panel” hearings next week.

Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, Paul Farmer, said he was pleased that Mr Hunt recognised the need for proper scrutiny. “Everyone agrees that health and social care needs better integration, but Accountable Care Organisations and Systems are not the way to do it,” he said. “They will lead to an even greater fragmentation of the NHS, with different models in different areas, and they open the door to wholesale privatisation.”

Deborah Hopkins, a nurse and an official of Unite The Union, said campaigners who had been protesting Cornwall’s creation of an Accountable Care Organisation had been vindicated. “We need to remain vigilant, because there’s no guarantee they won’t try to sneak this idea in through another back door,” she said. “I’m sure the threat of legal action, in the form of two Judicial Reviews, will have helped concentrate the government’s mind. But I’m relieved that even this Tory government has now recognised that such a fundamental change to our NHS needs careful consideration and we look forward to the Health Select Committee receiving its evidence in due course.”

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