Poor response from new “Integrated Care Board” in North East

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“North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System” (NENC ICS) has been responsible for commissioning all health care in the region since July 2022. There are, of course, major difficulties with this organisational system, and these are identified on our webpage here.
The Board of the ICS meets every two months and, on reading the Agenda and papers for 28th March 2023 Board meeting, members of KONPNE were shocked to see the number of services in the region which, following CQC inspections, “require improvement” and, also, the required overall “efficiency” target of £48.4 million – all evidence of underfunding and the Governments strategic run down of NHS provision. Click here for the “Integrated Delivery Report” – scroll to item 8:1 on page 96
>> OUR QUESTION: With regard to this important issue, we submitted the following question to the March 2023 ICS Board meeting:
“Keep Our NHS Public North East (KONPNE) is a group of people who strongly believe that the NHS should remain a public service.
Members of KONPNE are very concerned to read in the North East North Cumbria ICB: Integrated Delivery Report February 2023 (Agenda Item 8.1) that a number of services within the ICS are inadequate, according to the CQC. We are aware that the Board have noted this. 
Please detail, specifically, what the Board’s plans are for addressing this situation, given the requirement for the ICB to meet an overall efficiency target of £48.4 million”
>> THE VERBAL FEEDBACK to our question at the meeting was astonishing in both content and brevity. The person who made the response (we remain unsure who it was, as no surname or role was provided) seemed keen to assure that there was nothing to see here, as follows:
No services were rated as OVER-ALL inadequate; North East Ambulance Service was rated inadequate in part and a support package has been put together to look at elements of that (yes – but our question asked for specific details, which  we need to know about)
There is a need for Enhanced Surveillance of some services (yes….details…?)
KONPNE notes that CQC rated a number of other services as “requires improvement” (this issue wasn’t developed in the response – it would have been a good opportunity to update on the actions regarding these services, instead of closing the question down)
Apparently the requirement to bank £48.4million in efficiency savings (flowery name – we know this as BUDGET CUTS) won’t affect the budgets of the services which require improvement (- so end of subject there, apparently no need to expand on that point….)
And the so-called “efficiency savings” / cuts will be made on “prescribing and CSE packages of care” (information about the effects of this and action plan regarding these services would have been useful). 
Thus, in short, we feel this to be a minimal and superficial reply to an important issue, deserving of a considered and respectful verbal  response. Click here to watch the video of the verbal response – click on the image for 28th March, go to 3:28 on the timer slide at the bottom of the video, and don’t blink.
>> As for the WRITTEN FEEDBACK to our question…. o dear, o dear….  the following, ….err….exceptionally brief written response was received from the ICB on April 23rd 2023, three weeks after the meeting….. what can we say…..:
“Thank you for your question. 
None of the 11 provider organisations in the ICB are rated as inadequate overall. In North East Ambulance Service’s (NEAS) recent inspection, they were rated as inadequate for Well Led but overall as requires improvement. NEAS are being supported by the ICB to work through the actions identified by the CQC.”
>> KONPNE: Obviously, “North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board” need to do better regarding public involvement. We read on the ICB website that “The ICB is committed to providing clear and accessible public information to build understanding and trust….. The ICB will provide good quality accessible information that meets the needs of all people in our communities”.  There’s some way to go, then.  We will, of course, be writing to the ICB regarding their paucity of response and  seeking more information about these issues.
>> PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT: And while we’re about it – some issues for the Board to develop around the PROCESS of public accessibility to the Board meeting…. that is, if true public involvement is to be welcomed….
1) We need to know who is speaking? Important for all verbal reports, but especially for the response to the public question!  2) The time period between the publication of the Agenda and the cut off date for the receipt of questions to the Board was NIL for both the November 2022 and January 2023 Board meetings and ONE DAY for the March 2023 meeting.  Given that the Board meets every two months, this window for submitting a question is either non-existant or ridiculously small and is an indisputable barrier to involvement  3) We query why a question from the public to the Board must be based on the Boards’ Agenda?  We require an openness and willingness to engage with the patient agenda regarding Board activity   4) Placing questions from the public at the very end of the meeting gives a message of reduced importance and can, furthermore, add another barrier to engagement for people with certain health or attentional difficulties. It is useful to note that questions from the public are at the start of the local full Council meetings.   5) An option to ask the question in person and a right to reply would be welcomed  6) Space is required on the agenda for receipt of petitions.
We will be contacting the ICB about these issues as a matter of priority.
UPDATE 15.5.23
– We have contacted all seven Healthwatch organisations in the NE, so that they are aware of our concerns.
– NENC ICS have been in touch to offer a meeting to discuss our concerns – this is a positive development, we intend to accept this offer and will keep you updated.

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