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Darzi limits local role

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A new report setting out the government's vision for the NHS does not give councils a big enough role, local government has warned.

The report, Our NHS our future, by health minister Lord Darzi, focuses on greater local accountability in the health service.

But Lord Darzi envisages service users, not councils, taking the lead in holding the NHS to account.

The report also promises more integration between councils and primary care trusts in devising strategies for wider public health issues such as obesity.

"At the heart of [our approach] will be the relationship between local government and the local NHS," it says. In effect, we need a single health and wellbeing service in every local community."

Alyson Morley, health policy analyst at the Local Government Information Unit, said the overall thrust of the report was welcome but added that it was "worrying" that Lord Darzi had ignored councils' scrutiny role over the NHS.

"One of the major issues in the review is holding the NHS to account, it's pretty surprising that there is no mention of local councils," she said. "We are missing the representative dimension that local authorities provide."

She expressed hope that the report's final version, to be published next year, would contain a bigger role for councils.

"We would hope to see a NHS with very clear lines of accountability and for local authorities to be more a part of that local accountability structure."

Local Government Association director for community wellbeing, Anne MacDonald said: "We are disappointed that the contributions that local government makes to people's care does not come through as strongly as it should."

She added that the LGA was "waiting for an invite" so councils play their part of Lord Darzi's work.

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