Commenting on the Government’s response to the NHS Future Forum’s recommendations, Cllr David Rogers, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board and member of the Future Forum, said:
“Ever since Government announced its plans to reform the health service, councils have been lobbying hard to make sure local communities are placed in the driving seat with decisions about their health. Genuine accountability, transparency and scrutiny must be at the heart of any new system.
“The Future Forum made several much-needed recommendations to help ensure this becomes the reality and that the opportunity to fully integrate health, public health and social care so everyone is cared for isn’t wasted. It is reassuring to see Government has listened to some of our calls.
“It’s crucial the newly proposed Clinical Commissioning Groups don’t just focus on their own practice lists, but also work with councils on the ‘Cinderella services’ such as homelessness, mental health, learning disabilities, AIDS/HIV, dementia and child health. Local government has decades of experience and expertise in this field and it’s a role we’re willing and able to take the lead on. The Forum’s recommendations for joint commissioning and shared boundaries between GPs and councils should help make sure there are no gaps.
“Giving Health and Wellbeing Boards the teeth to hold GPs to account and highlight conflicts of interest, a call reiterated by many patient groups, is essential. The requirement for commissioning groups to share and agree plans with wellbeing boards, publish board papers and hold public meetings are strides in the right direction, as is town halls being able to decide how many elected councillors should sit on boards. This should help avoid communities being dictated to from above and see people genuinely involved in decisions made about themselves or their loved ones.
“Granting Public Health England greater independence from the NHS will help clarify its relationship with councils and Health and Wellbeing Boards.”
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