The National Centre for Public Scrutiny has chosen North Lincolnshire Council to become a Scrutiny Development Area - one of only 15 in the country to be selected. It will lead the way for other councils as the health system changes in response to the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill.
The project will ensure that scrutiny councillors will work closely with the Health Service, GP’s and other partners to ensure democratic accountability and transparency is built into the new health reforms.
The council will receive five days support from an expert adviser who will guide it through implementing the reforms locally and support and develop overview and scrutiny capacity.
The programme and support will focus on three key areas of work.
Enabling the council to develop its scrutiny role in relation to the modernised NHS in order to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.
Support councillors to examine proposals about substantial developments and reconfigurations of health services, supporting them to oversee the process of commissioning health and social care services and enabling them to work with local Healthwatch, Health and Wellbeing Boards and other key local partners (including regulators) to hold local services to account.
Support ‘development areas’ to enable early learning around wider scrutiny and accountability arrangements and service change to be captured and fed back to the Department of Health to inform policy development.
Cllr Mrs Jean Bromby, Chairman, North Lincolnshire Council’s People Scrutiny Panel, said:
“The council has been nationally commended by the Centre for Public Scrutiny for its scrutiny work. And I’m very pleased that we have been chosen as one of only 15 councils in the country to take this initiative forward and lead the way.
“Our People scrutiny panel currently has responsibility for health, adults and children and young people. But with the Health reforms and greater responsibility placed on the council, we will need to increase our ability to oversee the NHS.
“We are already one step ahead, having had a shadow Health and Wellbeing Board in operation for a year now. And the North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group has also been in place since October 2011.
“It is vital that we work with our colleagues to strengthen our scrutiny arrangements. North Lincolnshire has a long history of seeking improvements to local people’s health and wellbeing and we are keen to work with all stakeholders to identify further improvements.
“There is a clear desire from all sides to ensure scrutiny arrangements, transparency and accountability are firmly embedded in local health structures at an early stage, and we want to provide an excellent, member-led scrutiny process.”
A consensus understanding about how the relationship between Health and Wellbeing Boards and scrutiny functions will work.
A better understanding about how the council might use flexibilities in the Health and Social Care Bill to carry out scrutiny functions differently and how that might impact on joint working across council boundaries.
A better understanding of how joint scrutiny arrangements will work so that there is effective scrutiny of proposals for service changes without unnecessary delays to delivering benefits for patients and the public.
Local presence, capacity and capability to support reconfigurations and emerging relationships between NHS organisations and the council during transition.
Advice and support to emerging Clinical Commissioning Groups about designing, developing and building support for reconfiguration proposals.
An understanding of the contribution of local Healthwatch to scrutiny, particularly given their membership on the Health and Wellbeing Boards.
Councils will develop workable scrutiny arrangements that support NHS commissioners to deliver their QIPP objectives.
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