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Local councils should be given a greater role in managing health services where PCTs are failing according to a new pamphlet from the New Local Government Network (NLGN).
The think tank argues that the strength of local authorities’ financial and commissioning performance should be used to make health services more locally focussed and efficient.
Published today, Primary Care Trusts: Tailoring Commissioning finds that many PCTs are hampered by overly-centralised structures and frequent restructuring and that a lack of expect financial management and inefficient commissioning of services has hindered the delivery of community healthcare. It advocates using the financial expertise of local authorities to improve the performance of under-performing PCTs.
In the pamphlet, author Dr Victoria Barbary argues:
“where local authorities perform well and PCTs poorly, there is an opportunity to help PCTs by tapping into councils’ managerial, commissioning and financial skills. Involving local authorities in healthcare procurement would offer the possibility of joined-up commissioning across a range of cross-cutting policy areas. Funds could also be moved between services to tailor them to local needs. PCTs and town halls could thus be freed from much central government control, rehabilitate healthcare finances and tailor services to fit local needs”.
“Where PCTs are failing to meet the needs of the recipients of care, and not delivering personalised services, integrating PCT and local authority commissioning frameworks would empower service users and providers. Local authority procurement structures are more efficient, and since those responsible for them are democratically elected, more responsive and transparent”.
The pamphlet also advocates freeing PCTs from central management control and for national targets to be relaxed, as well as being able to define its relationship with local partners, particularly councils.