Headlines: June 27th, 2008

A new paper from the New Local Government Network says more devolution within the health service could help improve the delivery of services. It suggests that
local authorities should be given a greater role and share their expertise with Primary Care Trusts. The paper disagrees with a recent report from the King’s Fund, which questioned the need to devolve health
services further.

The NLGN document suggests there are not only strong democratic and service user reasons for improving the accountability of PCTs but says local democratic control may be a better route to faster service improvement. Its publication comes at a time when there has been speculation that the Government will give councils a more prominent role in local health services and after West Sussex County Council passed a
motion to make health services in their area more democratic. The NLGN says Trusts would benefit from the expertise of senior local authority managers, particularly in
financial management. It points out that councils had consistently recorded year on year efficiency savings while PCTs had recently posted an overall deficit of more than 600 million pounds. The paper goes on to argue that PCTs sometimes lack commissioning expertise and have few officers with specialist procurement skills. It also says that the fact that councils already commission services related to health outcomes supports the argument for their greater role in the strategic delivery and direction of PCTs.

Chris Leslie, Director of the NLGN said, “We suggest piloting joint commissioning and pooled budgets where there is a strong management support case to be made
in coterminous 4 star councils and 1 star PCTs”.