UNISON urges Edinburgh council to keep local people’s say over care services

UNISON will urge Edinburgh council to stick to its joint plan with the NHS for integrating health and social care services at today’s Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee (Tuesday 5 August 2014 10am City Chambers).

The union says the ‘body corporate’ plan is the best way to ensure local people keep their local say over services, while ensuring fully joined up working with the NHS.

At this late stage, with only seven months to implementation, the union expects moves to ditch the joint project in favour of passing everything across to the NHS. This is despite two years of joint planning by the council and the NHS, along with the unions, to build a jointly led integrated service.

UNISON officer Kirsten Hey, who works as an Occupational Therapist, will warn councillors that any change to plans at this stage would “cause extreme disruption to the integration process”.

She will warn that transferring everything to the NHS would create legal problems for the council like its duty to provide Mental Health Officers, confusion about the legal role of the Chief Social Work Officer when the people she is responsible for are working for another agency, and the host of problems that will come in terms of continuity of service, pay, conditions, pensions and professional accountability. 

The union will quote evidence from Northern Ireland and New Zealand that single budget, medical led services end up with resources being diverted away from local community supports.

Kirsten Hey will say: “We feel strongly that it is in everybody’s interests for integration to work well. A joint board model is the best way to achieve integrated services leading to better outcomes for the people of Edinburgh.

“It will retain council control of social care services, with all the democratic accountability that goes along with that. It will retain the council’s credibility in the eyes of the public who voted for you to run our services, not transfer them elsewhere.

“That means local people keep their local say over services, while ensuring they benefit from fully joined up working with the NHS.

“And even more importantly than all of those things, it will enable the integration process to proceed without interruption so that we can all get on with what we want and need to do – improving health and social care services for the people of this city.”