Councils call for joint role with GP commissioners

Local authorities have welcomed their new role in improving health services but are concerned about the amount of resources that will be available to them.

In its response to the White Paper, the Local Government Group, representing local authorities, says councils can 'take the pressure off GPs' by taking a 'lead role' in commissioning services for mental health, dementia, HIV/AIDS, drug and alcohol dependency and long-term conditions.

But authorities are worried that they will be underfunded or that ring-fencing money for public health will make it difficult to commission effective public services. 

'We urge the government to clarify the level of resource to be allocated to local authorities to meet the proposed health improvement duties and to remove the ring-fence to enable councils to use the totality of their resources to greatest effect,' its response says.

The Local Government Group also calls for councils' health and wellbeing boards to sign off GP commissioning plans.

The report says GP consortia should be required to develop their plans in partnership with councils based on a joint strategic needs assessment.

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