Waltham Forest Council and PCT merger plans gather pace

Waltham Forest Council and the London borough’s primary care trust are set to recruit a joint finance director as part of proposals that could lead to a full merger.


They are also considering seconding the chief executive of the PCT, Sally Gorham, to take interim charge of the council’s adult social care functions.


The council’s cabinet this week approved plans to recruit a joint finance director, and it has also commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to “look at further opportunities for integrated working”.


London PCT cuts after election


The council, in the north east of London, is considering a merger with the PCT as it believes there could be a cut in the number of PCTs in London following next year’s general election.


This reduction could be achieved through local mergers or grouping PCTs to serve larger areas, according to a paper presented to the council’s cabinet in July.


“Given the current working relationship in Waltham Forest and the ability to develop and deliver joint programmes,” it added, “it is considered important to act quickly to retain the local link to influence the future shape of these services and health and social care provision in the borough.”


Shared resources ‘critical’


A spokesperson for Waltham Forest Council said this week: “There is already a very strong working partnership between the local council and NHS in Waltham Forest. We believe that shared resources between local partners will be critical to achieving higher-performing and more cost-effective public services for local people.


“With this in mind, we have agreed to appoint a joint director of finance for both organisations and commissioned PwC to undertake a study to look at further opportunities for integrated working. The report is due to be completed by the end of the year.”


Section 75 of the National Health Act 2006 gives councils and health bodies the power to pool funding, delegate commissioning of services to one lead organisation, and integrate staff, resources and management structures.


Other examples of integration


Waltham Forest’s case is one of a number of current and recent examples of councils and PCTs integrating functions:-

  • Blackburn with Darwen Council and PCT have agreed to submit an application to the Department of Health establish a care trust in the borough with responsibility for commissioning all social care and health services for children and adults.
  • Care trusts – responsible for commissioning adult social care and health – have also been set up in North East Lincolnshire, Torbay and Solihull in the past four years.


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