A bid for further devolution including healthcare in the South East was “like a bolt out of the blue” for a Hampshire CCG, who were cut out of the councils’ plans.
The councils of Portsmouth, Hampshire, West Sussex and Southampton have joined to put in a bid to NHS England for further devolution, and included health as an afterthought.
Dr Sarah Schofield, chair of West Hampshire CCG, said: “It was like a bolt out of the blue, we didn’t even know they were discussing it.”
The CCG has not been told how devolution will affect health, or been involved in the decision-making process, in fact the chair was “quite surprised that such a huge leap forward has occurred”.
NHS England has asked for expressions of interest to be in by 4 September, and devolution talks are in progress across the country, in line with the Five Year Forward View.
“The expression of interest has gone in without us (the CCG) being involved in any of the written work,” Schofield added.
Health was added to the devolution bid very late, after realising that there was an “urgent need” for it to be included, however Schofield said that if the plan is going to progress “health has to be at the table”.
“There is a clear recognition that working closer together is important, but how we play into this is something that health needs to work out.
“I think the big difficulty is around whose agenda this is. If this is entirely council-driven and health is invited that’s not the same as health and social care being equal partners, and all of that has to just be worked through,” she said.