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Friday, June 14, 2019

City council could rejoin NHS group after privatisation and accountability row

The new unanimity requirement would effectively give the city council a veto over decisions it doesn’t agree with.

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An influential NHS body is poised to agree changes after the city council suspended its membership.

Late last year, the Labour-run Nottingham City Council pulled out of the NHS’s Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System (ICS), a scheme designed to improve cooperation between social care and the NHS.

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The ICS, previously known as the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), is now set to approve several significant changes this week, and the city council is expected to formally rejoin the project next week.

Crucially, the ICS is expected to agree to introduce  a measure where any decisions by its  board which ‘may result in privatisation or outsourcing’ can only be passed through a unanimous vote.

When the city pulled its co-operation in November, it warned that the ICS could be used as a ‘cover for cuts or for privatisation of public services’.

The new unanimity requirement would effectively give the city council a veto over decisions it doesn’t agree with.

It is thought the unanimous voting would not apply to individual contracts, as this could breach procurement rules, but would come into effect for broader policy directions.

The ICS, which was set up in 2017,  is also expected to agree to include the city council on the board – the decision making body – which the council argued was important for democratic accountability.

Thirdly, the ICS could agreed to include a dedicated city-specific sub group, known as an Integrated Care Partnership.

The new policies are set to be approved by the ICS at its board meeting on Thursday, April 11, and the city would then formally rejoin on Tuesday, April 16.

Nottinghamshire is one of the first parts of the country to set up an ICS, and is effectively piloting an approach which could be rolled out across the country.

It aims to bring together social care – which is controlled by councils – and health care, which is controlled by the NHS.

The idea is to create a more streamlined and effective system, which it is hoped will improve care for patients and save money in the long run.

The city council and ICS have welcomed the proposed changes, but were unable to comment ahead of the meetings this week and next.

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