News story

Giving healthcare power to local people

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Giving communities more say in shaping healthcare in their areas.

Local people and professionals will have much more say in shaping healthcare in their areas - and NHS, social care and public health services will work closer together.

The Secretaries of State for Health and Communities and Local Government have today (22 July 2010) set out proposals on how patients, locally elected councillors, local authorities, public health experts and others will work side by side with GP consortia to make health services meet the needs of people in local areas and improve health outcomes.

This partnership, led by local authorities, will mean services become more responsive, and be developed in ways that fit around the people who use them.

Patients and the public will also have a stronger voice through a new patient group, local HealthWatch - a ‘citizen’s advice bureau’ for health and social care. Local people from HealthWatch would also influence local plans ensuring they fit community needs.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

A decade of centralising, controlling government has left public services like the NHS strangled with red tape, lumbered with target after target, and weakened by the need to report to bureaucrats instead of the public.

Under proposals published today, for the first time in 40 years there will be local democratic accountability and legitimacy in the NHS.

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.

Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, said:

Power has to be devolved to local people so that decisions about their health are made by them, or by people that best understand their needs.

Whitehall can’t prescribe all of this, and the health service shouldn’t wait for a rulebook from government. Everyone should have their say in these consultations so we can get on with building strong local partnerships and improve people’s health.

The proposals also mean that health can be considered alongside other crucial services like education and housing - recognising the impact that these services can have on individuals and families health - for example suitable housing can help older people stay safe, healthy and independent.

How local NHS, public health, and care services will be shaped

The government is asking for views from the public, health professionals, and anyone else with an interest in local health issues, on 2 public consultations launched today:

  • Commissioning for Patients
  • Local Democratic Legitimacy in Health

The White Paper Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS proposed crucial elements of a truly personalised and local health system that will make it easier for everyone to shape local health services and hold them to account in the future.

Within a ring-fenced public health budget local health improvement funds will be held by local authorities, and decisions about how this is spent will take account of all the local issues that impact on people’s wellbeing. Local Directors of Public Health will be crucial to this process, and the national Public Health Service, when created, will complement local decision making with evidence, research, and evaluation.