Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The truth about the Health and Wellbeing Board

One of the decisions I guided through Cabinet today was the approval of the structure, terms of reference and make up of the Shadow Health and Well Being Board in Cambridgeshire, which is being created as part of the changes being made to Health delivery in England through Andrew Lansley's changes to the NHS.

A number of factors went into our thinking about the Board; we wanted it to be small enough to be an efficient vehicle for delivery and for everyone involved in Health to be able to have their voice heard, whilst recognising that not everyone could have a seat on the Board without it becoming too cumbersome.

As a result, we created a board of eleven members, including; the Leader of the County Council, myself and a representative from the District Councils as democratic representatives along with a number of Council Officers and representatives of the Health Sector.  But we also agreed to create a number of networks underneath this, including Local Health Partnerships which will ensure some of the thinking is done in a more localist way.  We also agreed for the District Councils to be able to create their own network so that their representative on the board could speak for all.

I believe this is an excellent structure - but of course the Lib Dems claim it is undemocratic.  So let me explain where the democracy is in this structure.  Firstly, our overview and scrutiny function will be continuously overseeing the function of the board; that committee includes District Councillors and Liberal Democrats.  The Local Health Partnerships will have councillors on them (including in some places Liberal Democrats) and the Board itself has three Councillors.  So, whilst maintaining an efficient top level structure, we have managed to make the overall structure localist and democratic.

The Lib Dem position is, of course, about headlines rather than reality. Some things never change.

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