So the changes in health start shortly – from April this year, GPs will be in charge of commissioning services, instead of the PCT, and Public Health transfers (back) into local Councils.
I think that we’ve got a good group of GPs in Calderdale who seem to be passionate about local health services and keen to be in charge of them. In my leading role within the Council, I’ve met them regularly and frequently over the last 2 years, and been impressed by them and their willingness to collaborate with the Council and local people.
Similarly, we’ve got a good Public Health service. Although they’ve been working closely with the Council for some years, it is good to see them becoming part of the Council. And the even better news is that we’ve been given more money (about £1m – so the total amount of money available for public health is over £9m) because we have been underfunded.
At the heart of our local services and strategic planning arrangements, is our new Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) which finally becomes a legal body at the same time. The Council will be responsible for this and it’ll become a Council Committee (with open public meetings).
Based on the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA, for short), we’ve been working on the Health and Wellbeing Strategy for the last year. This will be our major plan – with the aim of Calderdale being “an attractive place where people are prosperous, healthy and safe, supported by excellent services”.
And I’ve been leading a “Task and Finish” group (which really will have done the job) of preparing the new Healthwatch service to help people influence health services locally. This starts in April and will be run through Voluntary Action Calderdale (VAC).
It seems to me that it’s particularly easy at the moment to be downcast and cynical about public services – perhaps with some justification because of the austere times that we’re in – but there are also positive developments to look forward with some optimism, and this is one of them. Calderdale is small enough to have good relationships (“partnerships”) because the leaders of public services – Councils, Police, Health, Housing – and it’s important that we capitalise on this, invest in it, and make sure that we all get the best out of it !