Headlines: November 19th, 2007

Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the health policy think-tank, the King’s Fund, is to chair a Commission that will look into how people can have a say in the way their local health services are run. The Commission has been set up by the Local Government Association, which hopes it will begin a debate on the issue.

The terms of reference will mean the Commission can consider and make recommendations on how local authorities can best work with the NHS and other organisations to involve people, hold commissioning and delivery systems to account, look at the options for commissioning of health and social care services, reconcile national funding with local accountability and investigate where funding for healthcare services and public health outside the healthcare system should sit. It may also take into account other issues such as governance, accountability and strategic direction. It is due to report back to the LGA next July.

The LGA chairman, Sir Simon Milton, said, “This Commission is intended to start a serious debate about how people can have their say about health services in their local area. People may have strong feelings about what care they want and need but don’t always know how to make their voice heard.” Niall Dickson, who will lead a team of Commissioners drawn from fields relating to health, local government and patient interests, said healthcare spending was now around nine per cent of the gross domestic product and services designed to treat illness and improve health touched all of us. “Yet it is not clear how they should be held accountable at local level or indeed what role individual members of the public or communities should have, or want to have, in the design, delivery and scrutiny of more efficient and appropriate local health services,” he added.