“my statement today gives only a first outline of the proposals..”

It’s possibly worthwhile emphasising that the reports, and here, and reactions to the Health minister’s statement in the Assembly today [pdf file] are based on what the minister describes as “only a first outline of the proposals”. Those proposals have been under review for some time.. During which some changes were left in place. In the process the designated Chief Executive of the single Health Authority, which it is now proposed be called a Board, has moved on.. From today’s statement

Unlike my Direct Rule predecessors, I propose a full public consultation on my proposals, to provide an unique opportunity for the public, their representatives, HSC staff, service users and all other key stakeholders to have their say. I plan to issue a more detailed consultation paper next month.

Mr Speaker, my statement today gives only a first outline of the proposals, and is intended to lead into, not to pre-empt, discussion with my Executive colleagues. I would also welcome early engagement with the Health Committee and am eager to meet with them as soon as possible.

The Departmental statement outlines that outline

The key elements of the Minister’s proposals are:

A new Regional Health and Social Care Board with up to 400 staff. It will focus on financial management, performance management and improvement and commissioning. The Regional Board will replace the four existing Health and Social Services Boards.

Five Local Commissioning Groups (i.e., the planning and resourcing of services) to cover the same geographical area as the five Health and Social Care Trusts, which would include representation from local government.

A smaller, more sharply focused Department and

A common services organisation that will provide a range of support functions for the health and social care service.

Strengthening the role of Health and Social Services Councils, which would also include representation from local government.

The proposals will be issued for full public consultation in February.

The new Trust structures implemented in April 2007 will remain largely as they are.

While in his statement to the Assembly [pdf file]

I also believe there are real benefits in commissioning arrangements tying in with defined population areas, in particular, having co-terminosity with local government.

The Direct Rule arrangements for commissioning that I inherited, suggested seven Local Commissioning Groups based on Peter Hain’s proposals for seven District Councils under the RPA.

However, in the absence of firm proposals for local government reorganisation, I am now proposing to have five Local Commissioning Groups covering the same geographical areas as the five health Trusts. These LCGS will operate as committees of the new Regional Board. My proposals however, on the number of Local Commissioning Groups would remain subject to review pending the outcome of deliberations on local government reform.

So if we end up with 11 local government District Councils..

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  • Turgon

    This may represent progress but again it is unclear. The smaller focused board seems reasonable and the commissioning groups may also be of benefit.

    I remain highly unconvinced, however, that McGimpsey or any other local politicians are prepared to discuss reducing the number of hospitals or the centralisation of services and expertise. On the contrary I worry that the local politicians will continue to want everything provided in every hospital completely failing to appreciate that this is impossible in modern health care and is actually potentially dangerous. No one, not the minister, not the civil servants not even the health professionals seems willing to come out and tell the public that we need to centralise if we wish to progress.

    The recent rowing back on the targets for waiting lists is I fear another example of what we will have to become used to, a service falling gradually, gently, subtly but very definitely behind what is offered in the rest of the UK.