Tory-Lib Dem coalition expected to endorse Kennally Care on Monday, putting Cornwall’s National Health Service under County Hall control
By Graham Smith
The Inquiry Panel set up to consider the future of the NHS in Cornwall is, as expected, recommending that Cornwall Council should go ahead with “Kennally Care” and take the lead role in strategic commissioning.
If Monday’s meeting of the council’s Health & Adult Social Care scrutiny committee accepts the recommendation of its six-member panel, chief executive Kate Kennally will become the single Integrated Strategic Commissioner with effect from 1st April.
The 15 members of the H&ASC scrutiny committee includes five Conservatives and four Liberal Democrats, who between them provide a comfortable majority in favour of launching a shadow Accountable Care System, even if the remaining committee members (four Independents, one Labour and one Mebyon Kernow) all vote against.
The findings of the Inquiry Panel have never been in doubt and contracts bringing together the council, NHS Kernow, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust and the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust were actually signed even before the panel met for the first time. Its terms of reference, and list of invited witnesses, never threatened to challenge council officer recommendations. One “witness session” bordered on farce as Ms Kennally spoke without pause for more than hour in favour of her preferred option.
The most recent Inquiry Panel hearing invited NHS England to talk about the Judicial Reviews it is defending, but did not invite either of the two campaign groups which are actually bringing the legal action.
The majority of those who wanted to oppose Accountable Care had to submit evidence in writing. Regular protests that the move towards Accountable Care was being rushed have been ignored.
The proposals for a shadow Accountable Care System still have no published outline business case and there has still been no risk assessment. Critics fear the ACS does not differ from the original proposals for an Accountable Care Organisation, exposing the provision of Cornwall’s healthcare to even greater privatisation. The council has not responded to repeated requests to publish “before and after” documents which might explain why the term ACO was changed to ACS.
One part of the Inquiry Panel’s recommendation seeks to address the council’s failure to win its public relations battle: “The language used is changed to reduce confusion, i.e. that the term Accountable Care Systems is not used as this is associated with Accountable Care Organisations and that the term ‘vehicle’ in describing the joint board / committee, is not used as this could be interpreted as a new organisation.”
Such is the public interest in Monday’s meeting that it will be webcast, unusual for a scrutiny committee. The nine-page narrative recommendation from the Inquiry Panel is available on this link. The H&ASC scrutiny committee decision will inform a council cabinet meeting on 28th March, with the ACS due to launch a few days later. Contracts setting up the ACS were actually signed in December.