Blackburn merges management of NHS and council

Management of local government and health will be merged in Blackburn with Darwen after the council backed the plan last night.

Management of local government and health will be merged in Blackburn with Darwen after the council backed the plan last night.

Blackburn with Darwen Council and the borough’s care trust plus will have a single chief executive heading an integrated management team. The move is expected to save £2m a year across both organisations.

It marks a further step in the integration of local government and the NHS in Blackburn with Darwen. Last year, under the care trust plus, the council transferred its powers for commissioning social care for children and adults to the borough’s primary care trust.

Under the latest plan, there will be just one chief executive. Council chief executive Graham Burgess and his care trust counterpart, Judith Griffin, will this month be interviewed for the post.

Burgess, a former social worker, said he was relaxed about the possibility of redundancy. He said the plan would protect more frontline staff from redundancy than would have been possible without the merger.

“If I’m asking frontline staff to be made redundant in this structure, how can I be safe?” he said.

Herefordshire Council and its PCT have already formed a single management team under one chief executive while Barking and Dagenham Council in east London is also considering such a move.

Blackburn’s decision comes ahead of next Monday’s health white paper, which is expected to set out plans to transfer many PCT commissioning functions to GP consortia.

In an interview with last month, health secretary Andrew Lansley said PCTs or councils could help to support GPs in commissioning health services.

Burgess said Blackburn’s model fitted with the government’s plans in terms of offering commissioning support to GP consortia.

“Before we went down this path we checked it would fit with their [the government’s] proposals,” he said. “A very high level person in the health world said ‘this isn’t a pilot, this is a solution’.

“Our view was that there’s a real offer there because we think we will have something in place that will be attractive [to GPs].”

The care trust plus’s medical director, Dr Malcolm Ridgway, said: “The development of a closer partnership of the care trust plus and the council will facilitate integration and streamlining of services, empowering clinicians and staff, working with local citizens, to improve health and well-being and reduce health inequalities in the borough.”

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