Calls grow for district councils role in health

11 Jan 01
Local authority and NHS leaders this week called on the government to give district councils the right to scrutinise local health services.

12 January 2001

Under proposals going through Parliament, the network of English community health councils will be replaced with a new system that includes patient advocates in each hospital trust.

Local authorities will be handed CHCs' duty to examine the service provided by the NHS locally.

The move to abolish CHCs has been contentious and the government was bracing itself for a backbench revolt during the Health and Social Care Bill's second reading this week.

However, in a letter to Health Secretary Alan Milburn, the Local Government Association and the NHS Confederation welcomed councils' new powers, though they urged him to alter the bill to include district councils in the scrutiny process.

As the bill stands, districts can only become involved in areas where there is no county council.

'It is important that scrutiny arrangements are not confined to a single model. Different local circumstances, the range of different health organisations and potential future reorganisations make it sensible for there to be some flexibility to suit local circumstances,' it says.

'We hope that there will be an opportunity for district councils to be involved in the scrutiny process as appropriate.'

The bodies added that local inquiries should examine the effect of council and NHS services on health.

This joint approach is a mark of the increased co-operation between the two bodies, which were at odds last spring over proposals to give the health service responsibility for social care.


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