Several major city regions in the north of England have decided health and care will play no major part in their bids for devolved powers, HSJ has learned.

  • Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield opt not to bid for devolved NHS powers
  • Senior commissioners are not convinced devolution would allow the health and care system to achieve anything more
  • Local authorities have been submitting proposal to government this week

Local authorities, either alone or as part of joint regional “combined authorities”, are this week submitting devolution proposals to government, which plans to agree deals as part of the spending review this autumn.

In February, chancellor George Osborne announced Greater Manchester would be given new devolved powers. The inclusion of health and social care in its proposals, including budget integration and the transfer of most of NHS England’s specialised services funding, has attracted significant attention in the NHS. Cornwall agreed a county-wide devolution deal involving the NHS in July.

Other areas expected to bid for devolved NHS powers this week, according to research by HSJ and sister title Local Government Chronicle, include London, Liverpool and Gloucestershire.

However, HSJ understands several major city regions across the north, following discussions with NHS commissioners, will not include requests for devolved health powers in their bids.

They include:

  • Newcastle (North East Combined Authority);
  • Leeds and Bradford (West Yorkshire Combined Authority); and
  • Sheffield (Sheffield City Region Combined Authority).

The NHS is also expected to play no major part in bids involving Teesside, York and Hull.

NHS commissioners in several of these areas told HSJ they had discussed the issue with local authorities and decided health would play no major part in the near future.


Newcastle will not include requests for devolved health powers in its bid

A chief officer in one of the regions said he could not see how devolving powers would allow the health and care system to achieve anything it could not already.

A senior commissioner in Yorkshire said: “Whatever people determine devolution might add [for health and care], it is a lot further down the line.”

Another source said some councils had been against making the NHS a big part of their plans, because they thought it could be a distraction from other issues, and has large funding deficits.

HSJ understands senior NHS leaders across Yorkshire and the Humber were due to meet today with senior local authority representatives in a meeting organised by NHS England. In light of decisions not to include the NHS in current devolution bids, they were set to discuss how clinical commissioning groups can best work together, and with the others, across the whole patch. This is expected to include improving services in major problem areas, such as diabetes.

A source in the North East Combined Authority area said CCGs in that patch also planned to examine the benefits of working together across the whole of the North East and Cumbria. They would consider whether there might be benefits of devolved powers in future, the source said.

Elsewhere, the West Midlands Combined Authority’s devolution bid also includes no request for NHS powers, but does intend to explore improving public services, in particular for people with mental health problems.

Exclusive: Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield say no to NHS devolution