Concerns over integrated care body

PUBLISHED: 09:00 30 June 2012

The council says the new service could come into force in April next year

The council says the new service could come into force in April next year

Archant

A NEW care body combining the adult and children’s health and social services in North Somerset has come under fire from concerned councillors.

The organisation, which will see the bodies working together to create a service called the Integrated Care Organisation, an NHS Trust, could come into force as early as next April.

But some councillors are concerned the new scheme could ‘disintegrate’ the link between schools in North Somerset, and the children and young people’s services that currently serve them at North Somerset Council.

The new organisation could see health workers in four teams across North Somerset.

North Somerset Council says the move could give patients – ranging from children to elderly people – a single point of contact.

But the move has also come under fierce criticism from some quarters, with union Unison claiming the move is ‘privatisation’ and will see parts of the organisation sold off to private firms.

The move was discussed at North Somerset’s adult services and housing policy and scrutiny panel on June 15, where several councillors raised concerns.

Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Bell, who was at the meeting, said: “My worry is that children in particular just don’t naturally fit into an NHS model – there are a lot of risks.

“For example, children obviously have a very close relationship with schools and if they integrate the NHS with the schools then that could disintegrate the relationship between the schools and the children and young people services.

“Is it right that the schools’ first point of contact with the organisation could now be at Weston General Hospital? I just don’t think that’s a natural relationship.”

Independent councillor Donald Davies said: “The fact that these four teams are going to be centred on GP surgeries could be very problematic for people living in rural areas.

“Quite how this will work for staff has got to be questioned – is what we need at the moment another reorganisation?

“Also, will the new system allow councillors to interfere in how things are run?”

The plans are currently out for consultation.

You can let the council know your thoughts on the move by completing an online questionnaire on the authority’s website.

Consultation ends on July 31, before results are published on August 30.

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