Headlines: July 23rd, 2010

Elected councillors, local people and professionals would have a greater say in shaping health and social care in their areas under proposals which have been put out for consultation. The proposals, which follow last week’s health service White Paper, would also mean the NHS, social care and public health services working together more closely.

The Government is asking for views from the general public, health professionals and anyone with an interest in local health issues on plans drawn up by the Health and Communities and Local Government Secretaries. The proposals set out how councillors, local authorities, public health experts and others will work with the proposed consortia of GP practices to ensure health services meet the needs of local areas and to improve health outcomes.

The partnerships would be led by local authorities in an attempt to make services become more responsive and develop in ways that fit around the people who use them. At the same time patients would be given a stronger voice through a new patient group, local HealthWatch, which would also influence local plans.

The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said power had to be devolved to local people so decisions about their health were made by them or by people who understood their needs. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary added: “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.”