The dying days of local NHS accountability

Believe it or not, we are in the last days of relative transparency and local accountability in England’s NHS. It has seemed profoundly unsatisfactory up to now, but if ministers get their way we will soon see how much worse it can get.

It’s all set to change with the imposition right across the country of so-called “integrated care systems” (ICSs) – to be followed up by new legislation that will establish them on a statutory basis. The government proposals for this legislation, outlined in the recent White Paper, would also scrap the remaining Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), but also abolish some of the key powers of local authorities (dating back to the 1970s) to hold NHS bosses to account and challenge controversial hospital closures and reconfigurations.

These changes will make it harder than ever for health workers or the local public to find out what’s going on at local level, and for local communities to challenge or lobby for changes from ever-more remote NHS management.

From April 1 many if not all of the remaining 100-plus as-yet unmerged CCGs will be merged to form the basis of just 42 Integrated Care Systems.

Full story in The Lowdown, 21 March 2021