HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond said the town will not miss out due to major changes in the health system.
Speaking at the first face the public event for the town’s new shadow health and wellbeing board, Mayor Drummond said the town has a good track record of securing funding and fighting above its weight.
The Government-led changes are designed to increase competition between both public and private health providers, transfer responsibility for public health to councils and put doctors and other health professionals in charge of health spending through clinical commissioning groups.
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New health and wellbeing boards will oversee the changes and around 100 people packed into the Civic Centre to find out more.
Ali Wilson, director of commissioning and system development at NHS Tees, said it is anticipated the Hartlepool & Stockton-on-Tees NHS Clinical Commissioning Group could have a budget of about £360m.
The final budget for 2013-14, which is still to be finalised, will be allocated on the size of population and levels of deprivation.
Mrs Wilson said: “It is about identifying what the key priorities are.
“If in a year there is a big need to invest more in Hartlepool or a certain ward in Hartlepool, there is nothing to stop us.
“Similarly, that could happen in Stockton.”
Dr Boleslaw Posmyk, chairman of Hartlepool & Stockton-on-Tees NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, said Hartlepool and Stockton’s needs are very similar and that fairness, transparency and openness is key.
Dr Posmyk added: “We are working on the basic premiss that were money is spent it will be spent fairly.”
Independent councillor Keith Fisher said he was “uncomfortable” being joined to the hip with Stockton.
Mayor Drummond, chairman of the shadow health and wellbeing board, said: “We are still masters of our own destiny.
“We have a good track record of getting more funding than you would expect for an area of our size.
“With all the changes we had no choice but to join up with our neighbours, but you can be rest assured we are fighting for our fair share, if not more.”
The event was a chance for people to find out more about the town’s new shadow health and wellbeing board and to help shape a five-year strategy which needs to be in place by April 2013.
People had the chance to ask questions of the board which includes Hartlepool Borough Council, NHS Hartlepool, the Clinical Commissioning Group for Hartlepool and Hartlepool LINK.
Labour councillor Marjorie James said the majority of people present where from partner organisations, how would the board engage with the public?
Dr Posmyk added they are “committed” to communicating with people.
While health and wellbeing boards do not have to be formally in place until April 2013, a shadow board has been set up in Hartlepool to prepare for the changes.
Louise Wallace, director of public health for NHS Hartlepool and Hartlepool Borough Council, added: “There was a lot of enthusiasm and it is important people feel they can contribute.”
As part of the eight week consultation on the strategy there will be presentations at neighbourhood forums and an online survey expected to be up and running in the next week.
Further details will be announced soon.