Oppose Integrated Care Systems in the English NHS
Motion by: [Name of Union Branch]
Date proposed: [Date]
This Branch notes:
- The NHS in England is rapidly being reorganised into 42 regional Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), while the Covid pandemic rages. These ICSs will strengthen the role of private companies, including US health insurance corporations, in the NHS.
- NHS England wants new legislation, in the near future, to turn ICSs into legal bodies.
- Despite claiming to ‘integrate’ health and social care services for the benefit of patients, ICSs are actually based on a model from the United States, which aims to spend less on care.
- ICSs will operate with fixed annual budgets for a wide range of health and social care services – based on area-wide targets, rather than providing the care needed by the individuals who live there.
- Some 83 corporations and businesses, including 22 from the US, are getting heavily involved in developing ICSs and may even sit on their boards, putting them in a prime position to make self-serving decisions for the NHS.
- Unaccountable ICS board plans will be binding. They will mean more private contracts, more down-skilling and outsourcing of NHS jobs, reduced services (partially replaced by ‘digital’ options and volunteers) and significant spending cuts.
- We expect more down-skilling, forced changes to working conditions and increased outsourcing of NHS jobs.
- ICSs are supposed to operate as partnerships between the NHS, local authorities and others, but the plans actually sideline local authorities, threatening the future integrity of social care and reducing local accountability.
This Branch believes:
- The introduction of Integrated Care Systems threatens patient care, jobs, working conditions and the integrity of the NHS as a public service. We must oppose them.
- After 30 years of marketisation, it is time to restore the NHS to a fully accountable, publicly run service, which is provided free to all at the point of use. As voted for unanimously at Labour Party Conference in 2017, amending the 2012 Health & Social Care Act would not be enough. Changes need to be in line with the NHS Bill (2016-17).
- We need a separate, collaborative, publicly funded Social Care Service.
- In the race to bring new technology into health and social care, it is essential that patients and service users continue to get the human contact they need. These technologies should enhance the work done by staff, not be used to replace or performance manage them.
- As suggested by the Local Government Association (LGA) in their response to the ICS consultation: genuinely integrated services would take into account the wider determinants of health, such as housing. This would involve more input from local authorities not less.
This Branch resolves:
- Urgently to pass on information about these threats to the NHS and social care, to the Union’s regional officers and the Union Executive. a) To find out if they are aware of this major reorganisation of the NHS and its implications. b) To find out what action, if any, the Union is taking.
- To make sure the Union takes urgent action, including using its influence with other unions, the Government and the opposition parties. This action should include the following demands:
- An immediate halt to the rollout of ICSs.
- An extended and meaningful consultation with the public and Parliament to decide how health and social care services are provided in England.
- The introduction of legislation to bring about a universal, comprehensive and publicly provided NHS, fit for the 21st century (as set out in the NHS Bill at www.nhsbillnow.org).
- New technology must be used to improve patient care, not to deskill or replace staff, or to deprive patients of human contact they want and need.