Health and social care integration must not be a smokescreen for cuts or privatisation.
That was the message from conference delegates as they backed a range of measures to challenge the Tory government’s underfunding of the NHS and to campaign for properly funded integration initiatives in the interests of patients, service users and staff.
‘Take a step back and consider health and social care from a different perspective”, Scotland NEC member Jane Carolan urged conference as she moved Composite C on Heath and social Care Integration.
“One thing is clear, barring accident, fate or a Donald Trump apocalypse, we will all get older”
“We can all agree that we that we all want to grow old with dignity and respect. The largely privatised model of care that we have has undermined standards of care and workforce pay and conditions”
She reminded conference that UNISON policy over many years has supported integration to provide seamless care, but she warned that that support was not unconditional, and that it where it is done on the cheap, it must be exposed.
“Integrated services need a real and continuing growth in investment. Trying to bring about major change with no new money is impossible.”
She warned that there can’t be real integration without the empowerment of staff and that we must learn from each other, “from Scotland and the North West and from Northern Ireland where health and social care have been integrated since the 1970s”.
She quoted Nye Bevan, “the essence of a satisfactory health service is that the poor and rich are treated alike, that poverty is not a disability, and wealth is not an advantage.”
She called for social care that is not an add on luxury, that has a professional and trained workforce.
“This union pioneered the Ethical Care Charter, a gold standard. But we can do more to fight for universal, publicly provided care services.
“Join that crusade, it could just be in your own interests.”
Una Provan of Greater Glasgow and Clyde Community and Voluntary Sector Branch told delegates that in Scotland we have had our first full year of integration which has focussed on structural decisions rather than impact on the ground.
“We in Scotland want to be part of an integrated service that meets the needs of the local communities we serve rather than an excuse for more cuts,” said Una.
She highlighted the School Nursing Service, which is currently undergoing a National Review.
“Over the years employers have allowed this service to be systematically cut to a level of crisis, and guess what, some integrated boards in Scotland now see the school health service as a sitting target for more cuts.
“This will have a massive negative impact on the most vulnerable school aged children in our population,” slammed Una. “Health inequality in children should be our number one priority.”
Una told delegates that school nurses identify, assess, highlight and address issues such as childhood poverty, mental health and obesity, all of which which can prevent children achieving the best educational attainment.
“I have no problem with change. I want to work in an integrated way,” added Una, “But not at the cost of producing a reduced, watered down service.”
Una also warned of cuts to the District Nursing Service – another service close to her heart . She warned that early discharges for patients still requiring high levels of nursing care without a properly planned and integrated package of care can result in our members continually working at crisis level and struggling to meet patient need or going off sick with work related stress.
“Don’t let integration and transformation he an excuse for cuts,” urged Una.