Local Authorities To Gain New Health Functions

As Chairman of Birmingham Council’s Health and Adults O & S Committee, I was naturally keen to see the Government White Paper on the NHS, which was released yesterday.

The White Paper (entitled “Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS” and which is Crown Copyright) envisages Local Authorities (such as Birmingham City Council) having new functions, including:

Promoting integration and partnership working between the NHS, social care, public health and other local services and strategies.

Building partnership for service changes and priorities.

Leading joint strategic needs assessments, and promoting collaboration on local commissioning plans.

PCTs and SHAs will be abolished and the Government plans to transfer health improvement functions to local authorities. Health and well being boards will be established, which will allow local authorities to take a strategic approach and ensure there is integration across health and adult social care (the two areas which my Scrutiny Committee deals with) but also children’s services, safeguarding and the wider local authority agenda.

With Andrew Lansley in the Edgbaston Constituency during the recent General Election campaign.

The White Paper sets out a timetable which will see a Health Bill introduced in Parliament this autumn with many of the reforms coming into effect in April 2012.

This is an exciting document which, as Andrew Lansley (Secretary of State for Health) told Parliament yesterday, gives “an unprecedented opportunity for Local Authorities and the NHS to create a much more integrated and effective strategy for health and social care working together.”

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