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Sector moves for more influence

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Local government is poised to mount a campaign for a dedicated representative on the NHS Commissioning Board, the managerial centrepiece of the government’s health reforms.

The move is in recognition of the over-arching power that the commissioning board - expected to begin its “shadow running phase” soon - will have over the shape of local services.

Much has been made of the increased democratic input expected from council-based health and wellbeing boards as part of the reforms.

However, there is a growing acceptance that the real power will rest in the hands of the NHS Commissioning Board, which is where health and wellbeing boards will seek adjudication over disagreements related to local services.

David Rogers (Lib Dem), chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said there was still a lack of clarity about the relationship between the bodies.

“There’s got to be some kind of link with health and wellbeing boards as a whole,” he said. “One way of doing that would be to have a representative on the commissioning board.”

He added that approving the footprint of clinical commissioning groups was only one area that was not within the authority health and wellbeing boards’ remit.

In July, the Department of Health issued a document on developing the NHS Commissioning Board, in which it emphasised the extent to which it would be clinically led. Only one brief reference to local government acknowledged it as a “critical area for partnership”.

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