Headlines: July 17th, 1998

A senior figure in both the health and local government sectors has called upon councils to be a force for the future improved health of the population.

Lord Philip Hunt, who spent his working career in the NHS but has also served extensively as a councillor, said the key area in which the two sectors could come together was in acting together in the best interests of people using services.

He pointed to Birmingham where he said that after 20 years of failing to agree, the NHS and city council working together were for the first time constructing a ‘city-wide coalition to support change’.

He told an audience of councillors: “At national level, getting different Whitehall Departments to work together has proved to be very difficult indeed. We all know the Whitehall tradition of strong departments where traditionally Ministers have earned their reputations by defending departmental interests.

“The results have been conflicting policies which have often cut across each other when implemented at local level.”

And he said that councils and the NHS could set an alternative example: “The public would not forgive us; nor should they, if we don’t get our act together and start to knock heads together to ensure that services are properly co-ordinated and the links between good government, good housing and good health are fully exploited.”