Local authorities will have to develop closer relationships with
primary care trusts in delivering the government’s health
agenda, delegates at a Local Government Association conference were
told, writes Jonathan Pearce.
Nigel Crisp, department of health permanent secretary and NHS
chief executive, said: “PCTs will be the real link for local
Decentralisation of control from government to frontline
services would mean a “really powerful role for PCTs”, he added,
which would be responsible for spending 75 per cent of the
available funding for improving health and primary care.
Crisp also described the increase in the numbers of PCTs as “a
real movement”, with recent research showing them working more
closely with councils.
But David Browning, Audit Commission assistant director, struck
a different note in his response to Crisp’s speech. Care
trusts – which may be the next step for some PCTs –
were only one model of delivering health and social care services,
“If it suits you, go for it, but if not there are other models,”
he added, giving the example of joint boards across different
organisations as an alternative.
“We ought to be experimenting with other models using the Health
Act flexibilities,” he continued. Local authorities should not be
frightened of the challenges, but should recognise the opportunity
of increased influence.
“We’re having a re-grouping (of service-delivery) in a
horizontal way. The local authority is actually becoming more
influential,” he told delegates. “Its finger is in more pies.”