Huppert quizzes government to protect city’s health services
November 22, 2011
MP Julian Huppert has taken his concerns about the future of health services in Cambridge to the heart of government.
He quizzed Health Minister, Paul Burstow today (Tuesday, November 22) in the Commons on the make-up of a new organisation, which will oversee the spending of hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, to make sure the city is properly represented.
Julian asked Mr Burstow how he planned to ensure that members of Cambridgeshire’s new Health and Wellbeing Board were drawn from councillors across the political parties and geographically representative of all areas of the county.
Julian’s concerns come after the Tory-run Cambridgeshire County Council decided that the county’s new board would have just a solitary democratically elected district councillor. He or she will sit aside just two county councillors – both drawn from the Conservative-controlled county council Cabinet. Other members will be council officers and health officials.
The board will have responsibility for public health throughout the county and play a major role in social care.
Cambridge City Executive Councillors, Tim Bick and Catherine Smart challenged the decision not to allow the board to be politically balanced, but without success.
Mr Burstow attempted to reassure Julian that Cambridgeshire Council Council recognises the need to make sure there is geographical representation and that every local councillor is involved in the process.
“We are saying to local authorities that they can have a majority of elected members on their Health and Wellbeing Boards if they think it is the appropriate way forward for their communities,” he said.
And he added that a stakeholder event would be held in January to give more information.
Julian said later: “It is crucial to make sure that this board, which will make vital decisions about our health services, reflects the political landscape as determined by the people who live in our city; without that it cannot be fully accountable.
“We have made great progress in taking these decisions away from central government and allowing them to be made locally. But I am extremely concerned that unless we are represented on this board by people across the political spectrum who know and understand the health issues in our city, we will not get the services we need in the future.”