Health and social care shakeup will impact on Falkirk district

Landmark legislation is the biggest reform to social care services in a generation
Landmark legislation is the biggest reform to social care services in a generation

The way the local authority and its health board partner deliver the Scottish Government’s vision of integrated health and social care services has been decided.

From April Falkirk Council and NHS Forth Valley Health Board will work together on a dramatically different approach to provide the ambitious programme of reform.

The Public Bodies (Joint Working) Scotland Act 2014 was given Royal Assent on April 1. The landmark legislation has been described as “the most substantial reform to Scotland’s NHS and social care services in a generation.”

Integration will see the end of community health partnerships to ensure health and social care provision across Scotland is joined-up and seamless, especially for people with long term conditions and disabilities, many of whom are the older members of our communities.

Local authorities in partnership with health and social care professionals, the third sector, carers and other key stakeholders will be expected to work together to put in place the practical steps required to achieve the goal.

Across Forth Valley, Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire, councils will work closely with Forth Valley Health Board. It has been agreed however that to deliver the “best deal” for Falkirk district, Falkirk Council will form its own partnership, with Forth Valley Health Board its key partner.

The council’s chief executive set out the way ahead when councillors met last Wednesday.

She said the ‘Body Corporate’ model will have a more democratic approach by delegating all the functions within integration to a new Joint Board made up of up to four members of the health board and four councillors. She said it was the best way forward and the “fundamental” factor behind her recommendation was to select a model which will achieve the best outcomes for the citizens of Falkirk.

The recommendation, already approved by the health board, will be the subject of consultation with communities and a ‘think tank’ involving individuals, organisations and other sectors.

The chief executive said: “The main purpose of this engagement is to ensure the integrated arrangements have a clear focus on delivering the principles within the Act and, importantly, local outcomes for service delivery. The Strategic Delivery Plan must ensure the functions and services that come under the scope of integration actually are focussed on improving outcomes but must also outline clearly areas for further operational integration.

“There will be a requirement to understand and and bring together service delivery systems and two cultures. This is a substantial piece of work which must be focussed on achieving the right outcomes for local people as well as meeting the requirements of the Act.

“Health and social care integration is one of the most wide reaching and fundamental changes in the way public services are delivered since local government re-organisation. While this presents many opportunities it also presents significant challenges, including continuing to improve outcomes for adults requiring health and social care services while changing governance and operational management arrangements.”