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Unison welcomes the positive agenda for more joint working set out in the government's discussion document, Partner...
Unison welcomes the positive agenda for more joint working set out in the government's discussion document, Partnership in Action.

But increased integration between health and social services will only become a reality if there are adequate resources, strong safeguards for staff and democratic accountability, the union warns in its response to the government's proposals.

Backing the commitment to partnership between health and local authorities, Unison highlights the key role of local authorities in improving people's health with staff and users both losing out if users fall between organisational boundaries or there were attempts to shift costs between agencies.

Unison supports the removal of unnecessary funding constraints which prevent effective care. Any new system must have protocols to ensure probity and have greater democratic accountability. It must also address the issue of charging as health services are free at the point of use, while social services are not. Unison would like to see charges phased out and seeks clear assurances that charges will not be imposed for health care.

Unison is not opposed in principle to social care staff being employed by the NHS, and vice versa, provided there are strong safeguards for staff on key employment issues, including TUPE protection, managerial arrangements and training.

Rodney Bickerstaffe, Unison general secretary, said: 'The positive potential of Partnership in Action will only be realised if the government is committed to fully funding and strong staffing safeguards. If this happens, we believe the proposals open up new possibilities for delivering high quality integrated care to users.'

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