Monday, 20 June 2011

Conference Briefing: Care integration: Postcode lottery - or local services for local needs?

#uNDC11 Motion 45 on Social Care integration with Health from Scotland, coming up on Monday, was written in the context of Labour’s pre-election plans in Scotland for a National Care Service - but the principles still stand as politicians look to re-shape these cash-starved services.

Local Government branches are rightly suspicious of reorganisations based on cuts when they know that the main complaints about the service result from a lack of funds.

There is no doubt that there is a need to look closely at social care services with the demographic changes now and ahead of us.

There is also a need to try to ensure further integration to provide those most in need with as seamless a service as possible, when they need it and for as long as they need it.

15 minute home care visits, withdrawal of services, outsourcing and privatisation hardly fit that bill - and if all that is just transferred to a ‘national’ service, it won’t improve anything.

But just joining organisations does not ensure integration.

Internal integration in health and local council services is often a problem just now, let alone between services.

Council and Health workers on the ground work together every day as team to provide services. Maybe they should be asked first how things need to change, before plans are handed down fom the top.

Most of all, we need evidence that pilots around the country are actually delivering.

We need the evidence that service users will be able to hold someone democratically accountable locally.

We need evidence that jobs, conditions and therefore care will not suffer.
We also need to address the fact that a huge swathe of social care is hived off or privatised. How powerful would these organisations become if they had national rather than local contracts?

UNISON Scotland has agreed a document across Local Government and Health that covers all of the issues in this motion. It does not automatically rule out change but it does insist that there must be evidence that change will benefit service users, maintain a social model of disability and keep services directly accountable.

Much is said about ‘postcode lotteries’ in this debate. But one person’s postcode lottery is another person’s local service, tailored to local needs.

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