Tories say no to Southport having a say on local NHS
Sefton Conservative Councillors have joined with Labour to say ‘no’ to Southport having any say on Health and Wellbeing. Despite no Labour councillor having ever been elected to Sefton Council from any of the seven Southport wards, the council’s Health & Wellbeing board will only have Labour councillors representing wards in the South of the Borough.
At the Annual Sefton MBC Council meeting last night (Thursday), five Sefton Tory councillors, including the notionally-suspended David Barton, opposed a move by Southport Health spokesperson Councillor Tony Dawson to place a single Southport councillor the Sefton Health & Wellbeing Board.
“Southport people are used to Bootle Labour Party refusing to let them have a say,” said Cllr Dawson, ” But it is quite extraordinary that the Conservatives are ganging up with them in this way on a matter as important as the health of the people of our town.”
Health & Wellbeing Boards were set up by the government as special committees of the Council with the power to co-opt a wide range of specialist input from the NHS and voluntary sector to develop a comprehensive health strategy for local people. These Boards were specifically exempted from Local Authorities’ normal ‘proportionality rules’ which would have automatically required there to be one Lib Dem councillor on the Sefton Wellbeing Board.
“But the purpose of the exemption,” Councillor Dawson told councillors, “is laid down in Local Government Authority guidance as being to allow councils INCLUDE all communities, not to EXCLUDE them. It would be wrong for Southport, which is the largest community in the Sefton Borough, to have no representation on such an important body.”
“Southport has a completely different NHS economy to the rest of the area. We largely use Southport & Ormskirk hospitals while the rest of the borough, with the exception of some Formby patients, is mostly focused upon Aintree and other Liverpool hospitals. It is important that Southport residents should be represented by the people who they elected and who know and understand this health economy and participate in it.”
Seconding the bid to have Southport represented, Councillor Sue McGuire explained:
“A key objectives of the Health & Social Care Act was is to deliver greater local accountability for health services. Southport needs to be properly represented so that any concerns residents may have on their local health service can be reported and responded to appropriately.”
Cllr McGuire reminded Labour councillors of their own request some years previously for representation for Bootle on the Board of the former Sefton Primary Care Trust – a move which was accepted by other councillors at that time.
“If Labour were to be consistent with what they said about Bootle representation previously, you would agree with this proposal to ensure that there is Southport representation on this Board.”
However, the Labour and Conservatives voted down the proposal for Southport to be represented without saying a single word as to why.
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