Being involved in the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Partnership is “really important”, to make sure the needs of Bedford people are met.
One of the new representatives for the partnership, Cllr Louise Jackson (Labour, Harpur Ward), has said she was concerned Bedford was poorly served in terms of GP surgeries and doesn’t have “everything that we need”.
Councillor Jackson, portfolio holder for health, public health and wellbeing, and Kate Walker, director of adult services, have been nominated to represent Bedford Borough Council at the partnership.
Bedford mayor, Dave Hodgson, told last week’s executive meeting (27 April) that the government is introducing a new approach to managing the NHS locally, and working towards the further integration of services in health and care.
“This will be through the integrated care system, which requires local NHS bodies and local authorities to work together to improve and integrate health and care services, and address the health inequalities in the area,” he said.
“The integrated care system is expected to be in place for July 1, 2022, subject to the Health and Care Bill receiving royal ascent.”
Integrated care boards and local authorities will be required to establish an integrated care partnership as part of the system’s governance arrangements.
The mayor added that under the proposed legislation, the partnership will be required to prepare an integrated care strategy to set out how local partners will meet the assessed needs of its local population.
“The partnership focus will be broad, including how the system can address the wider determinants of health and health inequalities in this area,” he said
“It is recommended that the executive nominees are councillor Jackson, portfolio holder for health public health and wellbeing, and Kate Walker director of adult services, for Bedford Borough’s places on the integrated care partnership.”
Councillor Jackson said: “I think it’s really important that we do involve ourselves in this and that we are around the table whilst decisions being made.
“But I want to emphasize that my focus is very much on serving the people of Bedford Borough and at place.
“You may or may not know that the Health and Care Bill has navigated its final hurdle now and so it’s expected to receive royal assent, so the timetable is on track.
“It’s rather disappointing that amendments on workforce were rejected and that we won’t be keeping a track of our health and care workforce.
“This is absolutely key, obviously, we want to make sure that we’ve got all of the right infrastructure in place, that we’ve got the GP surgeries that we need, we’re very poorly served on that front, in fact across BLMK.
“On Bedford borough in particular I am concerned that we don’t have everything that we need.
“However, I think having a seat around the table gives us an opportunity to continue to influence that and make sure that we get the services that we need.
“But without people and without keeping an eye on what’s happening with our workforce across the entire system, in fact, up and down the country, we’re not really going to know where we stand at all.
“I’m happy to be involved and continue to attend these extremely long meetings on behalf of the residents of Bedford borough,” she said.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter