Cornwall County Councillors have stressed the necessity for a change to health and social care provision in Cornwall, pushing for an Integrated Strategic Commissioning (ISC) system to be implemented in the county.

Health and social care services in Cornwall are under more pressure than ever and, according to an email from Councillor Andy Virr; (Chairman of the Accountable Care System inquiry panel) “the status quo is no longer acceptable.”

During an all members briefing on 21st March, Chief Operating Officer for NHS Kernow, Helen Childs, supported the call for integration of care commissioning in Cornwall saying:

“We are failing the people we serve in the services we provide.”

This follows the Council decision on March 1st not to offer support for a proposed Accountable Care System (ACS). Although councillors have emphasised that an ISC is not simply a rebranding of ACS and that the term ACS should be ‘scrapped’.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) report released in 2017 noted that; “the Council was observed to have been quite insular and slow paced in its approach to developing adult social care in terms of interagency working.”

In the briefing, there was a particular focus on the services provided for the frail and elderly; ‘social care’ in this context was, historically, provided by local authorities.

However, as people are living longer, Councillors today argued that there needs to be an integration with health care services to create the best outcomes for the residents of Cornwall; a concept first proposed in 1962.

Councillor Rotchell argued the fact that people are “living longer doesn’t necessarily mean that they are living longer healthily” and, therefore, increased strain is being put on social services in Cornwall.

Currently, strategic commissioning of health and social care services is carried out by multiple powers including Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, Cornwall Council, The Council of the Isles of Scilly and NHS England.

The proposed ISC would integrate these commissioners under one system to more effectively provide care services across Cornwall, via the “strategic commissioning of health, social care and public health services undertaken jointly through a joint committee on behalf of the system” according to information provided at the briefing.

During the briefing, Council members also outlined plans for a ‘pooling’ of health authority and NHS budgets in concordance with section of 75 the NHS Act 2006. However, it was clarified after a query from a councillor that allocation of NHS funding would be handled in line with the national formula.

The Integrated Strategic Commissioning system claims, by one member of the briefing, to ‘not be about what’s best for the Council or what’s best for the NHS, but about what’s best for the people of Cornwall.’