Councils can complain to the health secretary if they believe local NHS groups are ignoring the commissioning strategies set by health and wellbeing boards, the Department of Health has said.
The announcement came in the department’s response to a report by the Commons communities and local government committee, which called for clarity on how local disputes should be resolved.
“If a health and wellbeing board believes that NHS England locally has not taken proper account of the relevant [joint strategic needs assessments] and [joint health and wellbeing strategies], it can raise this directly with NHS England, or – in extreme circumstances – it could escalate this to the secretary of state for health,” the document said.
It added that, if a health and wellbeing board believed a CCG had not taken proper account of the local strategies, it should report this to NHS England.
“The CCG must be able to justify any parts of their plans which are not consistent [with the locally-agreed strategy],” it said.
The report also said that, for the time being, a ban on councillors having a seat on CCG boards would stand.
This was because CCGs were “intended to have a sharp clinical and professional focus”, it said, adding that councillors could “influence decisions affecting the health service locally though membership of health and wellbeing boards”.
However, it added, the government was open to “representations on the effect of [the ban] in practice”.
The government also gave a hesitant response to a call by the committee for an early announcement of councils’ future public health budgets. The MPs had said these should be finalised by October 2014.
However, the DH response warned that although it understood the value of early funding announcements, “local authority allocations are just one of a set of complex and interrelated financial decisions the departments must take”.