Local authorities could be involved in GP commissioning, says DoH

A 'health and wellbeing board' could be created within local authorities that will be able to assert influence over commissioning plans of GP consortia, the latest DoH plans reveal.

In its consultation document, Local democratic legitimacy in health, the DoH proposed an ‘enhanced role’ for local authorities in supporting patient choice and supporting more effective NHS, social care and public health commissioning arrangements.

It said its preferred option is to establish a statutory role within each upper tier local authority to 'support joint working on health and wellbeing'.

This health and wellbeing board would also allow local authorities to ‘engage more effectively with GP consortia’, the DoH said.

'There would be a statutory obligation for the local authority and commissioners to participate as members of the board and act in partnership on these functions,' it said.

The consultation document added: 'The health and wellbeing board would give local authorities influence over NHS commissioning, and corresponding influence for NHS commissioners in relation to health improvement, reducing health inequalities and social care.'

Under the plans, if the health and wellbeing boards had significant concerns about proposed substantial service changes the DoH outlines this should be attempted to be resolved locally.

But in ‘exceptional cases’, where the dispute cannot be settled locally, the health and wellbeing board would have a power to refer the commissioning decision to the NHS Commissioning Board, the DoH said:

It added: ‘If the NHS Commissioning Board is satisfied that the correct procedure had been followed and that the decisions are based on clinical evidence, but the health and wellbeing board still has significant concerns…the health and wellbeing board would have a statutory power to refer cases to the Secretary of State.’

The consultation closes on 11 October 2010.

 Click here to view health White Paper 2010 news and analysis

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