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Local authorities and health scrutiny

Influencing toolkit 7

Why is health scrutiny important for physiotherapy?

  • Scrutiny by local authorities is designed to give the electorate some control over those making decisions about health services in the new system through local councillors
  • If a local service is cut or changed it may be possible for anyone concerned about this, including CSP members, to ask whoever is responsible for health scrutiny at the council to intervene
  • Although scrutiny powers can’t overrule decisions by NHS bodies and providers, they are influential, and they can refer decisions to the Secretary of State.

What is health scrutiny?

  • It is up to local authorities how they want to carry out their scrutiny duties but most will have a Health Scrutiny Committee
  • Powers of scrutiny mean local councillors can review any matter relating to the planning, provision and operation of health services in their area
  • Some scrutiny committees hold inquiries in public and many will invite professionals, and patient groups to give evidence
  • Powers of scrutiny also means they can require reps of all NHS bodies and health service providers to attend inquiries, give information, answer questions
  • NHS bodies and health service providers must consult with the local authority on proposals for any substantial variations to health services
  • Local authorities can make recommendations to health bodies,and where there is a disagreement they can refer matters to the Secretary of State.

How are local authorities involved in health?

Local authorities have a growing involvement in the health system. Health scrutiny is part of this. So it is important that they understand the contribution of physiotherapy.

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What can I do?

What makes sense for you will depend on your situation.These are just a few ideas:

  • Find out how your local authority carries out its health scrutiny, if they have a health scrutiny committee and who sits on it
  • Develop relationships with councillors on the health scrutiny committee, in particular the Chair / Councillor with the lead for health
  • Keep an eye out for local health inquiries carried out as part of scrutiny by the local authority; there may be an opportunity for you to give evidence
  • Talk to the CSP (your CSP Steward if you have one) about any concerns you have about plans for your service
  • If you want the local authority to use its powers of scrutiny to investigate or intervene, link up with others to have a louder voice – such as other CSP members, allied health professionals, or patient groups in your area
  • Find out what other CSP members are doing and share what you find out. Get in touch with your Regional Network
  • Working together helps us all. Let us know how you get on through your Regional Network.

Further resources

This information forms part of the CSP's influencing toolkit

Download a PDF version of this information


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