By Alisdair Stirling
The Department of Health will hand over day to day running of the NHS to a new independent board and will refocus on public health, under a radical shake-up being considered by the new coalition government.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has made the changes a top priority and sees them as a way to free up his new ministerial team to focus on major new initiatives on obesity, smoking and health deprivation instead of becoming bogged down in the ‘nitty gritty’ of NHS management.
The role of the new NHS board will include allocating resources and overseeing commissioning of care, paving the way for a potential rebranding of the Department of Health as the Department of Public Health. ‘Andrew Lansley has a longstanding aim to become Secretary of State for Public Health,’ one Tory insider told Pulse. ‘He wants government to focus on the big public health issues and thinks there is too much political interference in the running of the NHS.’
On paper, the plan looks to be at odds with Lib Dem aspirations to introduce elected health boards to run commissioning at a local level, but there is understood to be ‘no friction’ between the parties, with the Conservative plans apparently being pushed through unaltered.
A Conservative party source involved in drawing up the election manifesto told Pulse that the Health Secretary believed all the great advances in health had been in the public health domain through initiatives such as clean water supplies.
‘He´s keen to raise the game for public health and make a department for it.’ The new NHS board would also help sort out health inequalities by applying a ‘health premium’ to resource allocations in deprived areas. This would be one way of allowing the Lib Dem policy pledge of reforming payments to GPs in deprived areas to be honoured, the source said.
Independent board for NHS