Health & Social Care Co-operative Commission for Wales

Health and social care are of great interest to the co-operative movement in Wales, from how to continue improving services and making the most of integration, to exploring innovative ways to deliver services in the community.

A co-operative approach to social care is the fairest and most inclusive way of delivering services. Co-operative models of care put care workers and service users in the driving seat, ensuring they have a stake and a say in the services they rely on. They use the principles of co-operation to build on the first-hand knowledge of those who rely on, receive and provide care.

In Wales, the Labour & Co-operative Government know that co-operation works which is why they have a special duty on Welsh local authorities to promote co-operative models. Thanks to this positive policy direction of Welsh Government and the support provided by the Wales Co-operative Centre there are a growing number of social care co-operatives in Wales.

We can apply this learning to other health services. Our Co-operative Policy platform in Wales proposes examining new and innovative ways to improve primary care, such as clinician co-operatives for the provision of out-hours-services and social enterprises such as community benefit societies rather than private practices for NHS dental services. It raises the need to recognise and encourage an active role for all members of the community in the design and control of services. And it calls for active support for health and social care co-ops, including micro-co-ops to develop in the wake of the Health and Social Care Act and a publicly funded National Care Service.

And we cannot look at services in isolation. Despite great strides taken, Wales is still home to shocking health inequalities. There is a systematic relationship between deprivation and life expectancy – people living in the most deprived areas have a much higher chance of death from avoidable causes (3.7 times for males and 3.8 times for females). This not only has a serious human cost – new research shows that tackling this inequality could save hospitals in Wales £322 million a year, money which could be spent on improving services.

The NHS is only part of the story in reversing deep-seated health inequalities, which mean that people in deprived areas often have the poorest health. We need to look at the everyday causes of ill health, including education, housing and employment. Improving these can help to end the cycle of health inequalities – which means we must urgently seek to crate fairer local economies.

As well as other sectors of the economy, health and social care does have a role to play in wider economic change – both as anchor institutions and as big local employers. Whether it is access to good quality, affordable food or decent workplace conditions, the co-operative movement has long been part of this work. Community Wealth Building, too, looks at health and local economic outcomes and their relationship. In Cleveland, Ohio, the original Community Wealth Building work was led by the Cleveland Clinic who used the power of their procurement to invest in employee ownership and reinvestment of local wealth.

This commission

At the Wales Co-operative Party conference, the First Minister set out his plans for 50 local community hubs, where health and social care can be co-located, and for a foundational economy health plan.

To support this work, the Co-operative Party is creating a Health & Social Care Co-operative Commission, to bring together the wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas from the co-operative movement in Wales to feed into the development of the hubs and foundational economy health plan.

The commission will comprise of three stages:

1. A call for evidence, which will seek to collect information and ideas covering:

a. The lived experience of health and social care services in Wales
b. Examples of best practice from around the country
c. Opportunities to apply our co-operative values and principles in improving services
d. Ways to increase patient voice and participation, and ensure accountable and responsive public services
e. Ideas for the delivery of the 50 local community health and care hubs
f. Contributions to a foundational economy health plan which looks at tackling socioeconomic and health inequalities in Wales.

2. Expert evidence sessions, bringing together existing and aspiring health and social care co-operatives in Wales, service users, local government representatives, academics and activists to review the evidence and organise ‘deep-dive’ sessions on topics that require further exploration

3. Report of findings and practical recommendations to ministers to showcase the ideas and existing best practice of the sector, helping to feed into the development of community hubs and the foundational economy health plan.

Call for evidence

Welsh Health Call for Evidence

Step 1 of 2


Promoted by Joe Fortune on behalf of the Co-operative Party, both at Unit 13, 83 Crampton Street, London, SE17 3BQ, United Kingdom.Co-operative Party Limited is a registered Society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. Registered no. 30027R