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Health Board decision – “A sad day for NHS democracy”
Cambridgeshire’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Health, Geoff Heathcock, has labelled a decision to allow only three elected councillors on the county’s new health board, “a sad day for democracy in the NHS”.
Cllr Heathcock spoke out after the county council’s Tory-run Cabinet rejected calls from Liberal Democrats for five county councillors and one councillor from each of the five district councils on the new Health and Wellbeing Board.
But the Tories pressed ahead instead with two Conservative county councillors and a solitary district councillor.
Councillor Heathcock said:
“This is a sad day for any real attempt to bring meaningful democracy into the NHS. Contrary views on health policy and commissioning of service decisions will be diluted by the time they reach the board.
“The Cabinet simply doesn’t understand the concept of an inclusive board with proper representation from across the political spectrum. The board will be run and dominated by officers, which of course is how they like it.”
There was only limited discussion during the Cabinet meeting on the issue where it was suggested that district councillors views could be heard at local network meetings.
“This is simply not good enough,” added Cllr Heathcock.
The new board will oversee the spending of up to £800 million a year and have responsibility for public health throughout the county and play a major role in social care. It is being set up under the NHS health reforms and is designed to give local people more say on their services. Other members will be drawn from council officers and health officials.