Councillors express concern over effectiveness of new health board

Councillor Simon Cooke

Councillor Simon Cooke

First published in News

Serious concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the district’s new health board – by its own members.

Councillor Simon Cooke, who sits on the Bradford and Airedale Health and Wellbeing Board, has called for an urgent review of its function, saying it did not seem to be making any actual decisions.

He accused the board of just “tinkering around the edges”, while millions of pounds in commissioning decisions were being made elsewhere.

And his comments are even being backed up by the board’s chairman, Bradford Council leader David Green.

Local Health and Wellbeing Boards were set up across the country last April, as part of a national restructure of health services.

The idea of the boards was to bring key leaders from the NHS, public health, local councils and patients’ groups together to drive forward improvements in the health and wellbeing of their communities.

But Coun Cooke, deputy leader of the Conservatives on Bradford Council, said Bradford’s health board needs to urgently review its role as it didn’t appear to be making any actual decisions.

He said in particular he wanted to make sure healthcare contracts were being awarded transparently, as such decisions seemed to be bypassing the board entirely.

Coun Cooke said: “We sit around discussing relatively peripheral matters. At the next meeting later this month, the 14 members of the board will meet up at considerable expense to the taxpayer and of the four items for consideration, just one involves a substantive decision for the board – and this is merely a decision regarding the membership of the board.”

He said the board had been meeting for nearly a year and it was “about time that it finds its purpose”.

Coun Green, who is also Labour group leader, said he too had concerns about the board becoming a “rubber-stamp type body” but that as the board matured it would find better ways of working to free up more of its time from red tape.

But he blamed over-zealous Government bodies who “insist on being able to see every T crossed and every I dotted” for clogging up the board’s agendas.

Coun Green said if local health boards had been set up to make decisions about their communities, they had to be given some freedom to do just that.

He said: “Let us get on with it.”

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