The Liverpool City Region has declared it wants to explore taking greater control of health functions, including creating a ‘local leadership role’ for ‘performance oversight’.

The proposals are included in a bid for devolution to central government ahead of the autumn spending review. It has been approved by the leaders of Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral councils, and the mayor of Liverpool City Council.

Their plans say they want the “devolution of powers and resources” in relation to health, although the combined authority’s chair Phil Davies said the proposals were yet to be signed off by clinical commissioning groups.

Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust

The city region wants to ‘explore the opportunities and risks’ of devolving health powers

Councillor Davies, who is Wirral council’s leader, told HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle: “There have been general discussions but once we get passed 4 September there will then follow a whole series of detailed discussions with the key players.”

Any deal on health would “respect the NHS constitution and mandate” as well as local government legal requirements, a devolution demands document said.

The city region wants to “explore in detail the opportunities and risks” of devolving a range of health powers.

The areas are:

  • “specialist health services currently commissioned by NHS [England] including military and prison health”;
  • “a local leadership role in the performance oversight of the health and social care community in close partnership with Monitor, the [NHS Trust Development Authority} and the [Care Quality Commission]”;
  • “emergency and non-emergency transport including ambulances”;
  • “primary healthcare where it is currently commissioned by NHS England”; and
  • “public health responsibilities and budgets from Public Health England/NHS England and removal of the public health grant ringfence”.

It follows the announcement earlier this year that Greater Manchester was exploring the transfer of some NHS England budgets, including for specialised services, from April next year, as part of complex devolution and integration proposals for the area.

Councillor Davies said the combined authority was “looking with great interest at Greater Manchester’s deal” but added there was “still a lot of work to be done” to flesh out the Liverpool City Region’s health demands.

In relation to ambulance services, Councillor Davies, told LGC: “There’s a feeling that since the reorganisation [of the region’s ambulance trusts in 2006] and done at a North West level it’s not as efficient as it might be.”

North West Ambulance Service Trust covers Cheshire and Merseyside, Cumbria and Lancashire, and Greater Manchester.

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