Headlines: August 10th, 2004

A three-year contract to evaluate the impact of local authority health scrutiny has been awarded to a team of health and local government experts. Evidence is emerging that the work of health scrutiny committees of local councils is bringing improvements in local service delivery, but it has not so far been possible to quantify the value health scrutiny adds to existing healthcare inspection and regulation systems.The team, coordinated by the University of Manchester, includes The Manchester Centre for Healthcare Management, The Institute for Political and Economic Governance and The National Primary Care Research and Development Centre. Research will start in September 2004. The contract has been awarded by the Centre for Public Scrutiny as part of their three-year Health Scrutiny Support Programme, designed to increase capacity as non-executive members of councils get to grips with their new powers to scrutinise health services.

The research team will work closely alongside nine local authorities who have been selected to carry out innovative action learning projects in the field of health scrutiny. The projects include issues ranging from breastfeeding in Darlington, to death and dying in Norfolk.

Donna Bradshaw, Senior Fellow in Healthcare and Public Management, welcomed the award of the contract on behalf of the team: “”Local authority overview and scrutiny of health is a bold attempt to introduce a greater degree of democratic oversight of the National Health Service whilst at the same time promoting constructive engagement amongst the local agencies responsible for the health of the population. These topics are central to the research interests of the Manchester team and of great importance for the governance of our public services. We look forward to commencing the project.”