Healthwatch Reading and four other local Healthwatch have jointly voiced their opposition to ‘top down’ proposals to shift planning and funding of NHS services away from communities.
In a submission to NHS England (NHSE), the patient and service user organisations say ‘the overwhelming impression is of a ‘top down’ structuring proposal’ which would result in a regional grouping of 1.8million residents for convenience, rather than starting with individuals and their needs.
NHSE wants integrated care systems to take over the statutory role of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), GP-led groups that plan and fund health services for their local communities. This would mean that decisions about Reading healthcare – currently made by Berkshire West CCG - would rest with the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care System, known as BOB ICS.
The five local Healthwatch in the BOB areas said they would prefer that the ICS was only a statutory committee of equal partners including NHS commissioners, providers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
The local Healthwatch added that while they welcomed NHSE’s intention to move towards more joined-up health and social care services that were equally available to all local people, the proposals did not say enough about how patients and social care users, families and unpaid carers would be heard. It was ‘essential’ that there should be a statutory seat on the board of each ICS for local Healthwatch.