27th July 2010
Giving power to local people
Local people and professionals will have much more say in shaping healthcare in their areas – and NHS, social care and public health services will work closer together.
The Government is asking for views from the public, health professionals and anyone else with an interest in local health issues, on two public consultations launched today:
- Commissioning for Patients; and
- Local Democratic Legitimacy in Health.
This follows the publication on 12 July of the White Paper Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS .
Crucial elements of a truly personalised and local health system have been proposed, that will make it easier for everyone to shape local health services and hold them to account in the future.
The Health Secretary and Communities Secretary have set out proposals on how patients, locally elected councillors, local authorities, public health experts and others will work side by side with GP consortia to make health services meet the needs of people in local areas and improve health outcomes.
This partnership, led by local authorities, will mean services become more responsive, and developed in ways that fit around the people who use them.
Patients and the public will also have a stronger voice through a new patient group, local HealthWatch – a ‘citizen’s advice bureau’ for health and social care. Local people from HealthWatch would also influence local plans ensuring they fit community needs.
Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, said:
“Power has to be devolved to local people so that decisions about their health are made by them, or by people that best understand their needs.
“Whitehall can’t prescribe all of this, and the health service shouldn’t wait for a rule book from Government. Everyone should have their say in these consultations so we can get on with building strong local partnerships and improve people’s health.”
The proposals also mean that health can be considered alongside other crucial services like education and housing – recognising the impact that these services can have on the health of individuals and families – for example, suitable housing can help older people stay safe, healthy and independent.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
“A decade of centralising, controlling government has left public services like the NHS strangled with red tape, lumbered with target after target, and weakened by the need to report to bureaucrats instead of the public.
“Under proposals published today, for the first time in forty years there will be local democratic accountability and legitimacy in the NHS.
“Elected councils will have a key role including commissioning HealthWatch’ services to guarantee patients a voice. As we push power away from Whitehall we will make the health service more answerable to patients not politicians.”
Within a ring-fenced public health budget, local health improvement funds will be held by local authorities, and decisions about how this is spent will take account of all the local issues that impact on people’s wellbeing. Local Directors of Public Health will be crucial to this process, and the national Public Health Service, when created, will complement local decision making with evidence, research and evaluation.
Commissioning for patients
The second consultation, Commissioning for Patients, sets out detailed proposals to put GP consortia in charge of commissioning services that best meet the needs of local people, supported by an independent NHS Commissioning Board.
It asks for views on a number of areas, including:
- how GP consortia and the NHS Commissioning Board can best involve patients in improving the quality of health services;
- how GP consortia can work closely with secondary care, community partners and other health and care professionals to design joined-up services that are responsive to patients and the public;
- how the NHS Commissioning Board and GP consortia can best work together ensure a national framework that supports consortia in making effective and efficient commissioning decisions; and
- how the NHS Commissioning Board can best support consortia and hold them to account for the outcomes they achieve and their stewardship of NHS resources.
Phone: For enquiries please contact the Department of Health (DH) Media Centre on 020 7210 5221
Notes to editors
1. The Commission’s website is 1. The White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS , was published on 12 July 2010 and set out the Government’s strategy for the NHS.
2. The consultations published today can be found at the Department of Health website
3. The consultation will run from 22 July until 11 October 2010.
4. People can submit their views via email: NHSWhitePaper@dh.gsi.gov.uk or by post: White Paper team, Room 601, Department of Health, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS.
5. The press release and all the other documents can be found here
(Source – News Distribution Service for Government and the Public Sector)