Brighton and Hove will have a chair at the table when the new NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board (ICB) is formed.
The board will be part of a new integrated care system (ICS) to be known as the Sussex Health and Care Partnership.
The partnership – covering Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex – will run local NHS services from Friday 1 July when the Health and Social Care Act came into force.
The board will include a senior Brighton and Hove City Council official while a councillor will be allowed to attend board meetings as a non-voting observer.
The inclusion of a councillor was agreed after a government u-turn on a ban preventing councillors from sitting on the new NHS boards.
As a result, Green councillor Sue Shanks will be able to observe ICB meetings in her capacity as chair of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board.
She will also represent the council on the new integrated care partnership (ICP) – to be known as the Sussex Health and Care Assembly.
The integrated care system is intended to bring together NHS providers – including hospital, community and mental health chiefs – with social care bosses and NHS commissioners to plan services to meet local needs.
Senior councillors called a Policy and Resources Urgency Sub-committee meeting to hear about the new arrangements, discuss their concerns and sign off changes.
And the joint leader of the Labour opposition, councillor Carmen Appich, won support for closer oversight of the council’s transition to the new working arrangements with the NHS and other partners.
The oversight will be through a cross-party “task and finish” working group which will run for at least six months and provide democratic oversight and scrutiny of the joint financial arrangements.
Councillor Appich said: “I remain unclear as to the financial relationship between the NHS and Brighton and Hove City Council resources and where decisions are and will be made.
“Councillors are quite clearly responsible for making financial decisions as they affect the council’s budget.
“Therefore, I should like the member working group to ensure democratic oversight of financial accountability for our part.”
She added: “We should have an overview function of our own budget because we will get into hot water if we don’t do that.”
Papers before the sub-committee did not include budget details setting out how much of the council’s multimillion-pound health and adult social care budget would be committed to services covered by the ICS.
Green council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said that he believed that Brighton and Hove was one of only a few councils to have secured this level of democratic oversight of the new health and social care arrangements on behalf of local residents.
Councillor Mac Cafferty said that the new Health and Social Care Act would fundamentally change how the NHS and healthcare was run, adding that the Greens had campaigned for democratic accountability.
He said: “The proposed structures were missing key elements of such accountability that would champion local people and their health needs.
“We continue to raise our concerns about what the national legislation means. We raise fundamental questions about the timing – as the NHS is in what many of its staff are calling survival mode from the pandemic.
“On top of having suffered staff losses from Brexit and morale taking a hit in the cost of living crisis, like the rest of the public sector, the last thing the sickest residents of our city need is another change in how the NHS works.
“We continue to oppose some of the principles the government has made explicit in the new legislation – and we reserve the right to continue to argue for an NHS providing comprehensive healthcare free at the point of demand as well.”
Conservative leader Steve Bell said that he wished that an integrated system for social care and health care had come in years ago.
Councillor Bell said: “Each of us wants to see the health of our residents improve. We want to see the longevity of our residents improve. This is the way this is going to happen.
“It’s going to have some pitfalls and trips up along the line – and, perhaps along the line, we’ll have to revisit it. Eventually, hopefully, this will start to see a complete change in how we look at health.”
The reforms are also due to go before the full council next month. Then the chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board in Brighton and Hove, along with her equivalents in East and West Sussex, will meet the ICB chair designate. They will decide how often to meet and start working on a care strategy for Sussex.
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