Councillors and Health Boards in Havering

On Friday, three of the Big Society NHS team went to Upminster Golf Club, for a dinner hosted by Hornchurch and Upminster Conservatives where Andrew Lansley was speaking.

Prior to the dinner he held an intimate discussion with the GPs and doctors who were attending. I was unable to attend this and so met some of the organisers and local councillors instead.

I was introduced to Cllr Steven Kelly, the Chairman of Hornchurch and Upminster Conservatives. He is also the director of the Health and Wellbeing board for the borough.

The health and wellbeing boards are intended to lead on improving the strategic coordination of commissioning across the NHS, social care, and related children’s and public health services.

Each board must include the following:

  • at least one local authority councillor,
  • the director of adult social services for the local authority,
  • the director of children’s services for the local authority,
  • the director of public health for the local authority,
  • a representative of the local healthwatch organisation for the area of the local authority,
  • a representative of each relevant commissioning consortium,
  • other persons, or representatives of other persons, as the local authority thinks appropriate.

A representative of the NHS Commissioning Board must also sit on the board when local authorities are drawing up joint strategic needs assessments and related strategies.

The main functions of the health and wellbeing boards are to:

  • encourage persons who arrange for the provision of any health or social care services in that area to work in an integrated manner,
  • provide such advice, assistance or other support as it thinks appropriate for the purpose of encouraging the making of arrangements in connection with the provision of such services,
  • encourage persons who arrange for the provision of health-related services in its area to work closely with the health and wellbeing board,
  • encourage persons who arrange for the provision of any health or social care services in its area and persons who arrange for the provision of any health-related services in its area to work closely together.

I was surprised to find that he had no background in health at all, but had worked for an oil company and then later as the regional director for clothing designer Burberry. I questioned his own opinion on his lack of experience in health and, laughing, he said,

Health is the same as any other business, its about offering the services people want and at the right price”.

He also mentioned how Havering was set to have 2 GP consortia. In his opinion this is going to be bad as each will have less money to spend, and this will lead to decreased competition, which he sees as essential for improving healthcare outcomes.

The next person I met was Lynden Thorpe. A councillor for Squirrels heath, she is also the chairman of the health overview and scrutiny board. Again, she has no previous experience in health. And said that she was surprised to have been offered the position because of this, but didn’t feel that it was a problem.

Each overview and scrutiny committee has its own remit and they meet to consider issues of local importance.

They have a number of key roles:

1. Providing a critical friend challenge to policy and decision makers.

2. Driving improvement in public services.

3. Holding key local partners to account.

4. Enabling the voice and concerns of the public to be heard.

The committees consider issues by receiving information from, and questioning, Cabinet Members, officers and external partners to develop an understanding of proposals, policy and practices. Meetings of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee are regularly attended by senior officers from local Health Trusts. The Committee can then develop recommendations that they believe will improve performance, or as a response to public consultations.

Committees can establish Topic Groups to examine specific areas in much greater detail. These groups typically consist of a number of Members and the review period can last for anything from a few weeks to a year or more to allow the Members to comprehensively examine an issue through interviewing expert witnesses, conducting research and site visits. Once the topic group has finished its work it will send a report to the Committee and will suggest recommendations to the Council’s Executive or to the local NHS Trust.

If you too think that it is strange that members on these committees do not have to have a background in health then Do Something, write to your MP and sign the 38degrees petition.

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One Response to Councillors and Health Boards in Havering

  1. Pingback: Councillors and Health Boards in Havering | Coalition of Resistance Against Cuts & Privatisation

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