Burnham promises ‘social model’ of commissioning

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Andy B 2 The next Labour government will develop a “social model” of commissioning led by the Health and Wellbeing Boards, the Shadow Health Secretary has promised.

In a speech to a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Andy Burnham said the existing commissioning structure could “work differently” to integrate health and social care.

GP “control of commissioning” was not sufficiently in “the public interest”, he argued, and the CCGs would have to share responsibilities with local government.

Strikingly, he said the Blair government’s market-led NHS reforms had “gone too far” and the integrity of a “people before profit” NHS needed to be restored.

The current control of commissioning by CCGs and NHS England lacked public accountability, Burnham stated.

His proposed “social model” would merge the health and social care budgets, allowing funding to be shifted from acute care to community and social care.

He also promised to end the purchaser-provider split maintained by every government since 1989, enabling commissioners to focus on meeting the needs of the whole population.

Burnham’s claim that free-market competition promotes “fragmentation, not integration” contrasts with the pro-market policies of the Labour leadership, and raises the question of whether his policies will be retained by the party if it gains power.