The Integrated Community Equipment Service (ICES) provides disabled living equipment to help people maintain their independence at home, and to support them to have a timely discharge from hospital.
Since 2004 this service has been provided to residents of Brighton and Hove by Sussex Community NHS Trust. In June this year the NHS Trust gave notice to say they were no longer interested in providing the service and would be terminating the contract after September 2015.
In October the Public Health & Wellbeing Board recommended that the local NHS Clinical Care Commissioning Group and Brighton and Hove City Council agree a new contract with the provider that our neighbours West Sussex County Council would be appointing to deliver their service from next March.
Having looked into whether there were any viable alternative approaches, Policy & Resources Committee today approved that recommendation.
After the Policy & Resources Committee decision on the future of the Integrated Community Equipment Store, Councillor Jason Kitcat, Leader of the Council, said
“It is with a heavy heart that we had to support this change. After Sussex Community Trust decided they would not continue running the service, the council legally had to follow the national legislation around providing health services, though we oppose it, because these rules effectively mean that there are sometimes only private options available.
“As Greens, we utterly oppose the principle of privatising health services and wish to make it clear that Green policy would replace these tendering rules in favour of a presumption of a publicly owned health service.
“At a time of huge cuts to councils, we are faced with the real prospect of not being able to protect jobs and services – and cannot afford to take on new services that need major investment.
“Leaving the service to collapse would leave vulnerable people in Brighton & Hove without the vital equipment they need to live independently and safely at home.
“We’ve asked officers to ensure that council staff will keep their terms and conditions, including being paid at least the Living Wage. We also asked that trade union representatives are included in all stages of discussions.”
The government’s Care Act requires equipment to be available 24/7 – meaning the currently five-day-a-week service needs to change to meet these requirements.
The level of investment required for the council to run a separate in-house service would involve set-up costs estimated by council officials to be £1m, along with approximately £125,000 in IT costs and annual costs of £87,000. Further, the council cannot second staff from the Sussex Community Trust to continue the service as it is, since they do not want to run the service.
Brighton & Hove City Council is a minority funder of the service, with the Brighton & Hove Clinical Commissioning Group paying for the majority of the cost.
Existing staff will be transferred to the new provider under a TUPE process to ensure that the service meets the requirements of the city.
Occupational Therapists who visit residents in their home to assess their equipment needs will continue to be employed by Brighton and Hove City Council and are not affected by the equipment contract.
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.