We need to restore democratic control of our NHS. And we need your help to achieve this. In 2022 our Government once again re-organised our NHS from the top down. They broke up the health service in England into 42 semi-automonous healthcare systems divided geographically across the country. Each system is now called an Integrated Care System.
Newspapers and TV stations have kept the public in the dark about how this new structure will affect the healthcare services they rely upon. Most of the UK media did little more than make woolly statements about this helping ‘integrate health and social care services’. In fact all that will take place is meetings between those planning healthcare and the social services. This did in fact always happen. So what has really changed? Read more about the detail of the Health and Care Act 2022 here.
How our NHS was rearranged last year
The biggest change is that we now have a healthcare system which is semi-autonomous from the systems in the rest of the country. An Integrated Care Board runs each system and they are not public sector organisations. The Health and Care Bill mandates ICBs to include individuals from the private sector. Although, Sussex ICB has chosen not to include any representatives from profit making businesses on their board, at least for this year.
The ICB will manage demand to fit the pot of money they have
Each year, NHS England hands ICBs a pot of money to provide health services for their area. The ICB must ensure that demand for services does not exceed the amount of money in that pot. This is a seismic shift from the days when the pot of money was stretched to fit the demand. They are allowed to make cuts to services, introduce charges for services and even alter staff pay locally. We are no longer guaranteed that if we need a referral for treatment in a hospital it will be offered. Our NHS is now legally allowed to say that we cannot have the treatment we need.
NHS staff have a vested interest in calling for the ICB to open a public debate
NHS staff are also facing the worrying scenario where the Sec of State for Health offers a pay rise nationally, that is not honoured locally. Some NHS staff have told me that their own unions are not telling their members that this is possible. Please encourage any NHS staff you know to sign our petition calling for transparency on any decisions the ICB is considering. Staff have a right to be heard by the ICB before any plan to cut their wages is published. If you were one of the many who clapped our NHS staff during the pandemic – please take a look at this blog post to find out what they are living through now.
Please sign our petition calling for the ICB to open a public debate
As a campaign we believe that since the ICB was set up last year an open and transparent debate was needed into how the demand was to be managed in order to fit the budget provided. We wrote a letter to the ICB calling for this but did not receive even an acknowledgment of that letter. We have now set up a petition calling for the same. The public and NHS staff must be included in any discussions that will affect our healthcare services. They are funded by our taxes and exist for our benefit. It is vital we get a say if our access to healthcare is going to change.
On the Sussex Integrated Care System’s website there is very little concrete information about what they intend to do. But they have promised that a Shared Delivery Plan will be published in April. This campaign believes that the public have a democratic right to be involved in the development of that plan. This is our NHS and our opinions must be heard.
In this blog post we described how many people saw a catastrophic drop in standards of care after the New Year. We included a link for you to sign our petition to the ICB and a comment box for you to write to Caroline Ansell MP. Please use this to have your say. We have already emailed Caroline Ansell and asked to deliver comments and questions we have collected for her and to speak about our own concerns. She replied telling us to send questions and comments to Healthwatch or the Health Overview Scruitiny Committee even though they were written for her. She made no offer of any meeting with our campaign. But we will deliver all the comments and questions to the Town Hall for her. Along with a letter from the campaign. So please keep filling in the comment box in our blog post.
Help our campaign fight to be involved in the Sussex Health and Care Assembly
The Sussex ICS talks about a partnership with a wide range of voluntary, community and social enterprise services in Sussex. We have asked that this campaign is represented in that partnership. Please, if you would like to see our campaign involved in the Sussex Health and Care Assembly please email the ICB ( email@example.com) and let them know.
Finally, we have set up a crowdfund to raise money to support the work we do. We understand that times are hard financially for many people. But this campaign needs adequate funds if we are to have a voice in how our NHS services are changing. Every donation made, however small it may be, will help grow our voice.
Thank you for your help