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17.04.19

City council rejoins ICS after reforms agreed in privatisation and accountability row

Nottingham City Council is to rejoin its local NHS integrated care system (ICS) after significant reforms were made to the way the system runs in order to address concerns over accountability and privatisation.

The local authority’s executive board has voted to lift its suspension and restart its formal role on the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS, one of the first of its kind in the UK, which is designed to improve cooperation between social care and the NHS.

The city council suspended its membership of the ICS in November last year, arguing that the system could be used as a “smoke screen” for cuts and privatisation and that the organisation was unaccountable.

But the ICS has now agreed to a number of changes to the way it is run to address these concerns, including holding board meetings in public and, crucially, the introduction of unanimous voting for major votes such as those resulting in privatisation, giving the council an effective veto.

Ian Curryer, chief executive of Nottingham City Council, said the authority was satisfied the ICS “has shown it is committed to developing a new system of health and social care that is accountable to the public and has greater democratic involvement and engagement.”

The council said it had paused its involved with the ICS for up to six months to “allow time for the council to review the collective work to join-up health and social care,” but Curryer said it had always supported the principle of the integration of health and social care services.

“In particular, we believe the creation of an integrated care partnership will allow us to work effectively with the NHS to plan and deliver the best possible services focused on the needs of people in the city.

“We look forward to working with all of our partners to make sure our citizens can benefit from more joined-up care and support in Nottingham.”

Integrated care systems, formerly known as STPs, were introduced by the government in 2016 across the country to look at how local organisations can improve care, health and wellbeing through integrated working.

The managing director of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS, Wendy Saviour, said it was “delighted” the council has decided to lift its suspension.

“Over the last six months, all partners have been committed to working with the city council to address their concerns and maximise the opportunities to improve the health and care outcomes for the citizens of Nottingham city.

“The ICS is now in a strong position to continue to focus on delivering the most efficient and effective use of the resources we have available to us to support people in their communities to live a longer, happier, healthier and more independent life into their old age.”

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