The Local Government Group (LGG) has responded to the coalition government's healthcare reform proposals by urging it to award councils with more responsibility in implementing health services.
The LGG supports Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to devolve public health to councils and calls for local authorities to play a key role in commission services – particularly in areas such as mental health, long-term conditions, drug and alcohol dependency and services for the elderly.
The group also believes Health and Wellbeing boards must be given a statutory footing and be equal to GP consortia and the National Commissioning Board, while these groups need to be scrutinised and be locally accountable.
It also seeks urgent clarification on whether funding is needed, especially as funding for Local Involvement Networks finishes in March, but its replacement, Health Watch, does not go live until April 2012.
Councillor David Rogers, chairman of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, said: "Councils need to be at the heart of commissioning, especially in the areas they have experience and expertise in like so-called 'Cinderella services' for the vulnerable.
"GPs are inexperienced here and there's a real risk they may not see the incentive of commissioning services where success isn't easy to measure, or might outsource commissioning for these groups, breaking a vital link between an individual's health and social care services."
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"Are you kidding? I have been involved with our local council once in regard to a debt initiative for the local people in what is a very deprived area. You could not make it up – meetings about meetings, self congratulatory meetings, failure to listen no idea about the roles of GPs, HV DNs etc. total shambles re organisation of initiative and so much money wasted. All other parties, myself included, just stoppped going to meetings. The initiative was a shambles, as a council tax payer and as a busy person I was infuriated" – Name and address withheld
"Sounds just like the bureaucratic way of working that we're trying to get away from. We will be working closely with our local government colleagues but are looking for a lean management that isn't bogged down in endless meetings and red tape" – Name and address withheld