Responding to the Government’s ‘listening exercise’ on the Health and Social Care Bill, Baroness Margaret Eaton, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
“These reforms could present a great opportunity to fully integrate health, public health and social care, but new legislation is vital to make sure this chance is not wasted and that decades of council experience and expertise in public health and social care is not ignored.
“It’s crucial GP Consortia don’t just focus on their own patients, but also work with councils on the ‘Cinderella services’ such as homelessness, mental health, learning disabilities, AIDS/HIV, dementia and child health. We cannot afford to let vulnerable and often voiceless members of society fall through the cracks of a doctor’s practice list. If needs be, it’s a role councils are willing and able to take the lead in.
“GPs must have a legal duty to ‘consult and cooperate’ with Health and Wellbeing Boards and not simply ‘have regard to’ them. In line with our calls for strengthening Health and Wellbeing Boards, reiterated by many patient groups, they should be given the power to sign off GP commissioning plans.
“Local communities need to be in the driving seat with health, it’s their needs and concerns which should shape services. Giving Health and Wellbeing Boards teeth will help guarantee public accountability and reassure people that a fully open, transparent and democratic process surrounds decisions made about them or their loved ones.
“We still need clarity over roles and relationships between Health and Wellbeing Boards, GP consortia, Public Health England and the NHS Commissioning Board, as well as an explanation of the new public health budget and how funding will be allocated.”
Source: National Care Association