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LGA demands greater health powers

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The Local Government Association has renewed calls for council sign-off powers over GP commissioning plans as part of its response to the coalition government’s “listening pause” in its health reforms.

Its 10-point response to the NHS Future Forum, demands that council-led Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) have the ability to send back GP proposals that are not in line with their agreeed Joint Strategic Needs Assessmemnts and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies “to ensure democratic accountability”.

Additionally the association has called for boards to have the right to send back both council and National Commissioning Board plans if they do not give adequate consideration to HWBs’ assessments.

The group also called for the right to unilaterally sack directors of public health without consultation with the secretary of state for health, and for greater measures to protect health and social care integration pioneers such as Blackburn with Darwen and Herefordshire councils from national strategies to dismantle PCTs.

LGA group chair Barnoess Margaret Eaton (Con) said it was vital to make sure that decades of council experience in public health and social care were not ignored as part of the reforms.

“GPs must have a legal duty to consult and cooperate with Health and Wellbeing Boards and not simply ‘have regard to’ them,” she said.

“In line with our calls for strengthening Health and Wellbeing Boards, reiterated by many patient groups, they should be given the power to sign off GP commissioning plans.

“Local communities need to be in the driving seat with health, it’s their needs and concerns which should shape services.

“We still need clarity over roles and relationships between Health and Wellbeing Boards, GP consortia, Public Health England and the NHS Commissioning Board, as well as an explanation of the new public health budget and how funding will be allocated.”

The LGA also called for:

  • The establishment of pilot areas in which councils would be responsible for commissioning  services – such as mental health, AIDS/HIV, and dementia - for vulnerable people.
  • The NHS Commissioning Board to look at the co-terminosity of local services when setting boundaries for GP commissioning consortia; and
  • Councils to get commissioning responsibilities for all public health services for children – not just five-to-19 year-olds as is currently proposed.
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