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Cameron seeks localised NHS

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David Cameron has called for the NHS to be ‘localised’ as part of his bid to re-brand the Conservatives as the party of the health service.

The Tory leader’s proposals for “local networks” dedicated to healthcare to replace the current centralised NHS system has led to debate about the role of councils under the Conservatives’ plans.

Speaking in Manchester last week, Mr Cameron said: “I have described the 21st century in Britain as the ‘post-bureaucratic age’. We are in the moment when monolithic, centralised structures, with a monopoly of knowledge and power, are giving way to decentralised, open systems, where knowledge and power are diffused and democratised. Instead of the national mainframe, we are entering the age of the local network. This applies especially to health and healthcare.”

Roger Gough, policy director at the Policy Exchange think tank, which is close to Mr Cameron, claimed the leader recognised the links between councils and the health service.

“There is a clear recognition that there are huge areas of overlap, and the sort of things David Cameron had in his speech acknowledged that,” Mr Gough added.

He said that councils’ scrutiny roles, and the closeness between treatment and social care inevitably involved a degree of joint working that could be brought even closer.

Prime minister Gordon Brown’s statement of his personal commitment to an NHS constitution last week is also expected to feed into the debate about councils’ health role.

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