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The WLGA welcomes the broad thrust of the NHS White Paper (published in December), with the emphasis on partnership...
The WLGA welcomes the broad thrust of the NHS White Paper (published in December), with the emphasis on partnership and integration and the commitment to a collaborative approach backed by new statutory responsibilities on the NHS and local government to work together.

In particular it welcomes the commitment to work across boundaries to address health as well as sickness; the emphasis on devolved responsibilities with decisions taken locally in response to local needs and the focus on building services around individuals' needs and delivering them in an integrated programme of care which does away with organisational boundaries.

Malcolm King, WLGA health and social affairs spokesman and Wrexham CBC leader said that 'the White Paper represents a fundamental change in the delivery of health and social care in Wales. The WLGA had lobbied the Welsh Office consistently on the important role of local government in contributing towards population health and well-being in Wales and the importance of using local authority boundaries wherever possible as boundaries for public service delivery to assist in breaking down barriers. We are delighted that our concerns are being heard and look forward to publishing our own health strategy for consultation in late spring to help central government develop these ideas further.

'This White Paper sets us two major challenges to which we are happy to respond: a challenge to be full partners in delivering the new strategic Health Improvement Programmes in our area and ensuring that we play a full and effective role in the proposed Local Health Groups'.

Cllr King particularly welcomed the government's commitment for health authorities and local authorities to work closely together. The WLGA has already initiated this dialogue with the support of the health authorities around six key principles agreed in 1996 and reaffirmed this week

- communicate on the key issues regarding health in Wales

- agree a joint strategic framework

- identify good practice at the grass roots level in both primary health care and social care

- help to develop standards of care expected

- enable best use of resources in health and continuing care

- work together to identify and solve local problems, should these arise

He was also pleased that the White Paper specifically recommended the inclusion of a social services professional on the governing body of the Local Health Groups and felt that this proposal would be a key factor in improving local care services, meeting the needs of the user rather than the service.

In conclusion, the WLGA welcomes the commitment by the government to generate a new health agenda, one which address health and well-being rather than the delivery of health services per se. The WLGA believes that the interests of those which require access to care, either from social services or health services are paramount. The WLGA has made health one of its priority areas and look forward to a continuing dialogue with the government, health services and the residents of Wales in developing its health agenda.

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