Health and Social Care Integration – Closing the Gap

Back to all Motions

2017 Health Care Service Group Conference
15 December 2016

Conference notes the findings from the recent report identify that here in the North East Combined Authority (NECA) area, the health and wellbeing gap with rest of the UK remains high, facing challenges in cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, mental health problems and rising levels of excess life expectancy.

The Region is served by a strong hospital network including three foundation trusts rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission and strong partnership between research and healthcare delivery have led to the region being recognised internationally as a leading academic and innovations centre for bioscience research and trials.

However, despite these strong regional health and wellbeing assets, the regions health and wellbeing outcomes remain challenging. Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy for women and men are lower than the national average. Research is showing that a baby born in the NECA area can expect to live more than a decade few years in good health than one born in Richmond on Thames or Wokingham.

Public finance for health and care across the Northern Region is increasing and it is clear that the spend on managing the costs of ill health completely dwarfs that spent on keeping people well. The low spend on preventive activity increases pressures, and the need, to spend on hospital care.

Over the next five years resources are expected to become increasingly constrained through a combination of increased life expectancy and increased complex health and care needs. Social care budgets are under particularly intense pressure, raising serious risks for the health system.

This trend certainly doesn’t fit with the NHS England plans for greater efficiencies and savings via the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). The key priorities in the Region’s STPs are focussing around ‘Health and Care in our Communities and Neighbourhood’ but this can’t be delivered without massive increases in funding for health and social care in our area.

This report and the STP Plans are shared via the Local Authority Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) and these discussions are taking place with these System Leaders.

The decision making in the NHS has always had questions asked about the democratic deficit in that decision making. The increasing devolvement of powers to Clinical Commissioning Groups and GPs has increased this deficit and HWBs as proposed have some influence but no real powers.

This conference is concerned about the lack of power of HWBs, the democratic deficit in commissioning of health services and the lack of input from trade unions to ensure that the staff voice is heard.

The UNISON document ‘Stronger Together – A UNISON Guide to influencing the new NHS’ 2012 – provides a great tool for our members to become active in our campaigns to stop damaging cuts and privatisation.

Therefore this Conference instructs the Service Group Executive to:

1)Re-emphasis and encourage the role that Trade Unions can have in influencing and advising HWBs and Local Partnership Forums.

2)Share the UNISON Guide – ‘Stronger Together – A UNISON Guide to influencing the new NHS’ with branches to reiterate its continued relevance.

3)Develop Political Organising Training so our Members build relationships to make our influence count.

4)To support and encourage regional cross sector discussions within Branches to develop HWB links to engage with their local government counterparts with a view to influencing their local HWBs.

5)To work with Learning and Organising Services to provide scrutiny and HWB training to representatives in Branches to ensure there is sufficient expertise to deal with the issues we will face.