Concerns about Goverment's new health and care bill will be voiced again

A regional health committee chair will once again write to the secretary of state, voicing councillors’ concerns over the Government’s new health and care white paper.

Sunday, 25th July 2021, 10:00 am
Coun Liz Smaje

From next April, if it goes into legislation, the bill will see a new Integrated Care Partnership set up, responsible for developing an Integrated Care Strategy, while an Integrated Care Board would replace clinical commissioning groups.

Bradford Council’s Coun Vanda Greenwood (Lab, Windhill and Wrose), re-elected as chair of West Yorkshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (with Kirklees Council’s Coun Liz Smaje, Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw, as Deputy Chair), said she had written to previous secretary of state Matt Hancock but not got a reply.

Members agreed she should write to new health secretary Sajid Javid to voice the committee’s concerns again.

Jenny Shepherd, representing Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS, said the group were worried about the potential impact on patients and staff, fearing changes would reduce the Government’s “obligation to ecure NHS care for us all.”

Ian Holmes, Director of West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, told councillors the changes reflected legislation catching up with practice already in place.

“It matches what we do in many respects – we can work with it, and make it work for us,” he said in his presentation.

Government lead for the partnership, Stephen Gregg, said it would build on already strong foundations, where partners were already working together. The first partnership board meeting was expected to be in September.

Transparency and openness were important and the committee would get regular progress reports, he said.

Coun Colin Hutchinson (Calderdale, Lab, Skircoat) said governance was important and asked: “What scope is there for scrutiny to have input?” Mr Holmes said an ongoing engagement process through to April would allow all par tners’ views to play into that.

Coun Smaje wanted to confirm that non-health bodies, such as councils, would have input, as the bill included care as well as health.

Coun Graham Latty (Con, Guiseley and Rawdon) wanted assurances big voices like Leeds would not drown out smaller partners. Mr Holmes said the changes built on something that was an equal partnership with five distinct areas within West Yorkshire represented.

Coun Betty Rhodes (Wakefield, Lab, Wakefield North) asked what accountability was going to be like for the public. Mr Gregg said the new board wanted to get the public’s views.

GP Dr James Thomas said reducing inequalities spotlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic was “front and centre” of the new organisation’s ambitions. Coun Abigail Marshall Katung (Leeds, Lab, Little London and Woodhouse) said it was right inequalities were emphasised and this also needed to refer to ethnicity.

North Yorkshire Coun Jim Clark (Con, Harrogate Harlow) wanted assurances Craven, the only North Yorksire authority in the new body, would be represented properly.