Liberal Democrat peers have agreed to support government regulations under which councillors - and local doctors and nurses - are banned from clinical commissioning group governing bodies.
Last month Baroness Judith Jolly, the party’s health spokesman in the Lords, told HSJ she and colleagues would support a vote blocking the measures. The rules on CCG governing bodies are set in regulations laid before Parliament in July.
Currently local councillors, and nurses and doctors who work for local providers, are banned.
Labour peers have won a debate on the issue in the Lords on 16 October, and with Lib Dem support looked likely to be able to block them.
However HSJ understands Lib Dem peers have now backed down and will not support Labour peers in the debate. The decision followed discussions within the coalition.
Liberal Democrats are likely to cite assurances from ministers that the arrangements, as proposed, will work, and that councillors’ correct place in local systems is on health and wellbeing boards.
The government is likely to have been concerned about the prospect of sparking confusion, and opposition from some quarters, by changing the rules. A change would also have come at a late stage in CCGs’ development, although some are still seeking members, and keen to involve councillors.
Baroness Jolly told HSJ last month: “[The rule is there because] the government doesn’t trust the councillor body. There is no evidence for that, and they are elected.”
She said nurses and doctors from providers local to a CCG should also be able to sit on its governing body, as long as they declare interests.
HSJ this week revealed the government was considering using its forthcoming Care and Support Bill to require clinical commissioning groups to pool part of their budgets with local authorities.
The move, believed to be in the early stages of development, is intended to force the integrated commissioning which ministers have said they are seeking.