THE government’s planned shake-up of NHS England was branded “largely positive” by the Royal Borough’s health lead.

A full white paper was published on February 11, setting out the planned restructure which would supposedly have the health and care services work closely together, the government said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs this new system would see the NHS and local councils take decisions about local health together.

He also said the pandemic has emphasised the need for a better approach to population-wide health and integration with care services.

The Royal Borough’s lead member for adult social care, children services, health, and mental health, councillor Stuart Carroll (Con: Boyn Hill) welcomed the integrated approach the government is proposing.

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He said: “I think modernising the legal framework to make the health and care system fit for the future and putting in place some of the more target improvements in the delivery of public health are particularly welcomed.

“I think the important thing is there is a need to look ahead above and beyond the pandemic on how the health system can be best supported.

“And I would like to think some of these changes include an extensive review of pandemic preparedness and infectious disease control planning – which I think will naturally have to become a front and centre part of government policy to ensure that all of the lessons we can learn from this pandemic are learnt.

“But also we’re seeking a more preventative approach when it comes to infectious disease and the threat of a future pandemic.”

Cllr Carroll added while he finds the paper “largely positive” he will be scrutinising it with NHS colleagues to address some of the “big elephants in the room” such as how they will sustain and fund adult social care in a post-pandemic world.

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Critics of the government questioned the timing of the changes “in the middle of the biggest public health crisis” the NHS has faced.

Cllr Carroll said: “I do think it’s important for the government does start looking ahead because it’s right that we enable the NHS to focus on dealing with the here and now – which is the pandemic – I think it’s right to look ahead on how the NHS and other critical services can be enhanced.

“What I don’t think is just wait until we’re outside the pandemic because if we do that, we’re not going to be in the best possible shape.”