Councils back health and wellbeing boards
18 March 2011
Plans to shape local services around the needs of communities have been given a boost, care services minister Paul Burstow claimed after announcing that almost 90 per cent of local authorities had signed up to implement new health and wellbeing boards.
The idea is that patients and the public should experience a more joined-up service from the NHS and local councils, Burstow said as he revealed 134 local authorities had agreed to the scheme designed to give communities a greater say in services. These include care services for local people as well as health, transport, housing and leisure services.
Burstow said: "Local authorities have an in-depth understanding of the public health needs of their populations, but too often they haven't had the right systems in place to work with the local NHS to get the best health and wellbeing for their people. The reality is the NHS must updated in order to keep up with the increasing demand on services, an ageing population and rising costs of new drugs and treatments."
He went on: "There are some good examples of local partnership working, but there is scope for far greater joining up of health and social care services. That's why we're making health and wellbeing boards a statutory requirement. There will be a common, flexible framework for the boards, which will set out their minimum membership and core functions. It is incredibly encouraging to see that so many local authorities want to be at the forefront this initiative."
West Sussex primary care trust chief executive John Wilderspin is to be the national transition director for the health and wellbeing boards.
"A strong partnership between the NHS and local government is essential if we are to deliver further improvements in health care, social care and public health, and ensure the very best use of our combined resources," he said. "In my current role in West Sussex we have forged excellent relationships leading to real benefits for local people, and I look forward to using that experience in my new role."