The creation of a new Health and Care Commission for the North East could lead to the region taking control of devolved health and social care budgets, the combined authority’s chair has told HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle.

  • North East health and care commission to review scope for Greater Manchester style NHS devolution
  • Commission is part of a wider devolution deal for the region announced today
  • Devolution deal could be scuppered if residents reject plans for elected mayor

The commission, which has the remit to “review the scope and basis for further health and social care integration”, is one of the key components of a devolution deal for the region announced today.

However, the North East Combined Authority’s chair Simon Henig said council leaders and health chief executives did not want to follow in Greater Manchester’s footsteps without fully understanding the implications.

Simon Henig

Leaders could still walk away from the agreement if residents rejected the plans, Simon Henig said

Cllr Henig told LGC: “We think [a commission] is a better way of doing it than to just announce the Manchester style big change. It’s better to have this commission and take that evidence.

“Everyone accepts this is an area that needs to be looked at, particularly in an era of declining budgets, but it’s how we do that and making sure everybody is involved in that process.”

He added: “We want to bring health and social care together but we feel this is a sensible way of going about that.”

The deal also includes adopting an elected mayor who will oversee a multi-year transport budget, chair a new land commission, oversee bus services and be responsible for working with Rail North, the region’s franchised rail services.

Cllr Henig said the government made it “very clear” that a mayor was a “red line” for any devolution deal. However, adopting the model is likely to prove controversial as voters in Newcastle rejected an elected mayor in a referendum in 2012.

The devolution deal is still subject to public consultation. Cllr Henig suggested leaders could still walk away from the agreement if residents overwhelmingly rejected the proposals.

“That consultation is one of the conditions that’s set out on the first page of the agreement and it is there for a reason,” he said. “It’s not going to be a consultation that will then be ignored.”