Statement on Health and Sport Committee Report on Engagement by Integration Authorities

Scottish Care welcomes the newly published Report of the Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament.

The report follows a parliamentary inquiry into the extent to which the public, service users, the third sector and independent sector are being involved effectively in the work of Integration Authorities (IAs).

In its report, the Committee found a lack of consistency in stakeholder engagement across IAs which are now in their second year of operation across Scotland.

The committee heard evidence from a range of organisations including Scottish Care which presented both written and oral evidence.

While some areas of good practice were cited on stakeholder engagement, the committee heard concerns over engagement being ‘tokenistic’, ‘overly top down’ and ‘just communicating decisions that had already been made’.

The Committee states in their Report their belief that a piecemeal approach to engagement with stakeholders cannot continue, and that meaningful engagement is fundamental to the successful integration of health and social care services.

The Public Bodies (Joint Working) Act 2014 (the Act) sets out the legislative framework for integrating health and social care.

During passage of the Act the then Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being stated “the third and independent sectors will be embedded in the process as key stakeholders in shaping the redesign of services.”

The Act sought to achieve this vision by placing a duty on integration authorities to ensure stakeholders were fully engaged in the preparation, publication and review of strategic commissioning plans.

Scottish Government guidance on strategic planning states services should be “planned and led locally in a way which is engaged with the community (including those who look after service users and those who are involved in the provision of health and social care)”.

In responding to the Health and Sport Committee Inquiry Report Scottish Care’s CEO, Dr Donald Macaskill stated:

“I wholeheartedly agree with the findings of the report and its call to end a tick-box approach to engagement with the third and independent sectors. Effective and meaningful engagement is critical for the success of health and social care integration. Scottish Care’s evidence to the Inquiry highlighted that where there was appropriate and effective engagement that there were real benefits for all involved.

However partnership without presence is simply never going to work. Out of the 31 Integration Joint Boards the independent care sector has representation on only 8. This is hardly effective engagement.”