Headlines: March 10th, 2004

A new guide has been produced to assist staff and members of local authorities who are now involved in the new National Health Service patient and public forums designed to scrutinise health services.”Health Scrutiny: the Basics”, has been published by the Democratic Health Network, established by the Local Government Information Unit, and is aimed not just at councillors and local government officers but at their health service partners and other people involved in the newly established structures.

It explains the powers, which came into force last year, for councils to scrutinise health issues, resulting from provisions of the Health and Social Care Act. The guide covers what powers local authorities now have, who can be involved in the new function, and the requirements NHS bodies have to meet in relation to health scrutiny.

Dr Fiona Campbell, from the Democratic Health Network said the publication was designed to be a short and user-friendly grounding in the basics of this new area of local government power. “We hope that it helps more councillors to get started on health scrutiny and to use the powers that they now have to the full, ” she said.

The DHN was set up by the Local Government Information Unit to provide policy advice, information and research and to ensure the exchange of good practice on the developing relationship between local government and health. It aims to support the democratic role of local government in health improvement.

“Health Scrutiny: the Basics”, costing ten pounds for ten copies, is available from Central Books on 0845 458 9910or by e-mail mo@centralbooks.com.