During my most recent meeting with the Conservative group on Powys County Council, we discussed at length the implications of closer collaboration between the Council and the Local Health Board.
My concerns at the recent plans to merge these two organisations are well documented and consequently I was relieved when the merger idea was shelved only weeks ago in favour of ‘closer collaboration’.
One of the problems identified in preventing the merger was the NHS’ no redundancy policy at the Health Board; a policy that remains a very serious problem for the collaborative model.
The primary driving force behind this closer collaboration between Powys County Council and Powys Health Board is the desperate need for both organisations to reduce costs.
The envisaged streamlining of office functions between the two organisations will inevitably mean job losses. One would naturally expect and hope the burden of such cuts to be shared between both organisations, however as things stand with NHS policy, it is the Council that is going to incur all the consequential redundancies.
The Conservative group and I are in complete agreement on two points here. Firstly, the burden of any job losses must be shared between the Council and the Health Board; I will be raising this concern with the Health Minister as this policy will need to be addressed. Secondly, both organisations must focus solely on voluntary, rather than compulsory, redundancies.
We are all painfully aware that the consequences of Labour’s disastrous economic policy and their legacy of unprecedented debt, will mean some very tough years ahead. The need for Powys County Council and the Local Health Board to make these cuts is because of the financial and political incompetence of successive Labour led governments. However, where job losses are now inevitable, we must make sure that redundancies are made fairly and with as little pain as possible.