Scotland’s Community Health Partnerships (CHPs) will be radically reformed to bring an end to “cost-shunting” practices.
Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said legislation will soon be introduced to replace CHPs with Health and Social Care Partnerships, accountable to Ministers and local authorities.
“These changes represent the radical reform that is badly needed to improve care for older people, and to make better use of the substantial resources that we commit to adult health and social care,” she said.
“We are keen to avoid the pitfalls that can accompany centrally directed, large-scale structural reorganisation and staff transfer. That is why a cornerstone of our reform will be nationally agreed outcomes that all local partnerships will be required to deliver.”
The reforms will aim to tackle the barriers that are said to currently exist within CHPs which, according to Sturgeon, include divisions of accountability, “insufficient” and “unequal” delegation of authority, and “poor” clinical engagement.
The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities will act as the single accountable officer for the reformed CHPs to use integrated budgets to deliver specified outcomes.
Partnerships will continue to have the freedom to choose to delegate functions, budgets and responsibility for some aspects of service delivery if there is local agreement to do so.
Dr Brian Keighley, Chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, warned the “long overdue” reforms must be more than a “superficial re-branding exercise”.
“[CHPs]have become bureaucratic structures, caught up in their own internal processes rather than influencing planning, funding and development of local services to meet patient needs,” he said.
“It has been widely accepted that they have failed to bridge the gap between health and social care.”
For the reform to succeed, Dr Keighley said GPs must be engaged and involved in the new partnerships.