Last week, I was asked by the Wye Our Place project to interview Pat Conaty, a research associate at Cooperatives UK about social care co-ops:
Earlier in the day I was at County Hall when Pat delivered a presentation on social care co-ops to officers and members of Kent County Council, including the leader Paul Carter, and innovators in the healthcare field.
Kent County Council have been very supportive of the Our Place project in Wye as they are particularly interested in the concept of local communities taking more responsibility for their health and social care.
In fact a while ago I helped make a video with Kersh Media at KCC about this very subject. In the video below you’ll hear much of the same language used by Pat Conaty – the need to integrate public and private, paid and voluntary.. Everyone needs to work together. The patient needs to have more control. Preventative rather than reactive.
A difference is in perhaps in how such ideas are delivered. This video talks of health practitioners in Surrey being brought together by private business (Virgin Healthcare), whereas Pat Conaty is talking about a cooperative system which could involve the private sector but only as a subcontractor. i.e. the private contractor wouldn’t be in control.
The issue of where power lies is crucial in the debate about the future of the NHS. Personally I don’t think that the public will have any appetite for private companies controlling the service as there would always be the suspicion that they would prioritise profit over care.
Besides, if one is localising public services, surely it is counter-intuitive to then involve a multinational in their organisation? But would locally run co-ops be strong enough and knowledgable enough to deliver an efficient service? Pat Conaty assures us they would be.I think I’d like to know more about how they would be run.
Incidentally… Just before writing this I popped into the pharmacy just up the road. This used to be run by the Co-op but has recently been taken over, like all co-op pharmacies, by the Bestway Group. The pharmacist told me that she expects the involvement of employees in the business will probably be done away with…