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Editorial

Editorial Peter Thistlethwaite EDITOR The forced suspension of the Chief Constable of authority had been allowed to take public action Humberside, which at first glance does not seem on the Bichard Report, and so strengthen their relevant to the world of health and social care, has a overall accountability for the work of the local fascination for me. I want to argue that it does have police force. Recent events forced them to appear resonance for integrated care, particularly in relation merely to defend their chief uncritically; this is to the governance issues raised and considered by harmful to public confidence, and seems to Peck and colleagues in our first article. confirm that actions of chief constables are beyond I have always thought that chief constables have the reach of local bodies. had too much personal autonomy, despite a sort of The NHS and its medical leaders have over dual accountability to locally constituted decades similarly fought to protect themselves from authorities and to the Home Office. History and local political influence. There are pros and cons in precedent have determined that there should be no the argument over this, but the awful truth is that local political interference in operational matters, police authorities have more real local but public confidence might be increased if there representation (from magistrates as well as political was a more open dialogue with empowered local leaders) than the NHS does currently with its leaders about the style and priorities of doing the industrial-style management boards. Despite all the job. Consultative committees help, but they are not rhetoric about local control, the central the same as clear accountability to the local government-driven NHS performance management populace in these matters. regime seems all-powerful. Why is it, then, that I have nothing but sorrow The most representative means of governing the for a chief constable who has had his wings NHS locally is the care trust, so cold-shouldered by clipped, as has happened in Humberside? There local authorities sensing an attack on their control were mistakes in data handling which might have of social services. The children’s trust offers a more prevented the terrible Soham murders, but they do palatable model to local authorities, but to what not appear to be in the category of gross extent will real accountability for children’s health misconduct by the Chief Constable. Indeed, a be exercised through it? We badly need a better majority of the local police authority, and even one model of local engagement and accountability in of the victims’ parents, expressed confidence in these matters. Unfortunately, the NHS Improvement what the Chief Constable had said and done after Plan gives no more than a little hope that a better the problems emerged. What transpired, therefore, arrangement will emerge in the next five years. The was the sad spectacle of the Home Secretary using power to intervene, even symbolically, at local level newly acquired powers to intervene in local affairs, may prove too tempting for most ministers, and apparently precluding debate and negotiation. How certainly for Mr Blunkett on current form. much better it would have been if the local police 2 Journal of Integrated Care Volume 12 • Issue 4 • August 2004 © Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Ltd http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Integrated Care Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1476-9018
DOI
10.1108/14769018200400024
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Peter Thistlethwaite EDITOR The forced suspension of the Chief Constable of authority had been allowed to take public action Humberside, which at first glance does not seem on the Bichard Report, and so strengthen their relevant to the world of health and social care, has a overall accountability for the work of the local fascination for me. I want to argue that it does have police force. Recent events forced them to appear resonance for integrated care, particularly in relation merely to defend their chief uncritically; this is to the governance issues raised and considered by harmful to public confidence, and seems to Peck and colleagues in our first article. confirm that actions of chief constables are beyond I have always thought that chief constables have the reach of local bodies. had too much personal autonomy, despite a sort of The NHS and its medical leaders have over dual accountability to locally constituted decades similarly fought to protect themselves from authorities and to the Home Office. History and local political influence. There are pros and cons in precedent have determined that there should be no the argument over this, but the awful truth is that local political interference in operational matters, police authorities have more real local but public confidence might be increased if there representation (from magistrates as well as political was a more open dialogue with empowered local leaders) than the NHS does currently with its leaders about the style and priorities of doing the industrial-style management boards. Despite all the job. Consultative committees help, but they are not rhetoric about local control, the central the same as clear accountability to the local government-driven NHS performance management populace in these matters. regime seems all-powerful. Why is it, then, that I have nothing but sorrow The most representative means of governing the for a chief constable who has had his wings NHS locally is the care trust, so cold-shouldered by clipped, as has happened in Humberside? There local authorities sensing an attack on their control were mistakes in data handling which might have of social services. The children’s trust offers a more prevented the terrible Soham murders, but they do palatable model to local authorities, but to what not appear to be in the category of gross extent will real accountability for children’s health misconduct by the Chief Constable. Indeed, a be exercised through it? We badly need a better majority of the local police authority, and even one model of local engagement and accountability in of the victims’ parents, expressed confidence in these matters. Unfortunately, the NHS Improvement what the Chief Constable had said and done after Plan gives no more than a little hope that a better the problems emerged. What transpired, therefore, arrangement will emerge in the next five years. The was the sad spectacle of the Home Secretary using power to intervene, even symbolically, at local level newly acquired powers to intervene in local affairs, may prove too tempting for most ministers, and apparently precluding debate and negotiation. How certainly for Mr Blunkett on current form. much better it would have been if the local police 2 Journal of Integrated Care Volume 12 • Issue 4 • August 2004 © Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Ltd

Journal

Journal of Integrated CareEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 1, 2004

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