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LOCAL SCRUTINY OF NHS 'COULD BE HARMED'

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The Local Government Information Unit has warned that local accountability of health and social care services could...
The Local Government Information Unit has warned that local accountability of health and social care services could be harmed by government reforms.

The newly published Department of Health document, 'A stronger local voice: A framework for creating a stronger local voice in the development of health and social care services', ends uncertainty surrounding Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forums, which are to be replaced with Local Involvement Networks (LINks).

The LGiU's Democratic Health Network (DHN), while welcoming closer channels between patient representatives and councillors, claimed the new structures meant the removal of the PPI right of inspection of NHS premises. If these were not to be transferred to LINks, inspection activity would be limited purely to national inspectorates.

Dr David Janner-Klausner, Co-ordinator of the LGiU's Democratic Health Network added: 'It is of course welcome that the new LINks will be coterminous with social services authorities, making local NHS decision making more transparent. However, if these new bodies have fewer powers to investigate local providers they could be less effective and less attractive to individuals who might have sat on Patient and Public Involvement Forums.

'Local government should also be concerned that scrutiny committees are being strongly encouraged to focus on commissioning. While commissioning is undoubtedly critical as we are steered to a health economy with more providers, scrutiny members should be free to set their own agendas.'

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