Health and Planning

untitled (67)The news from yesterday that Sir Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England wants the NHS to participate in local planning issues is very welcome. It has been a long time coming and it is very sad that opportunities from the last 15 years have been missed, but nevertheless its a start. I served as a voluntary sector representative on the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) from 2002-2009. The Assembly was wound up by the civil service in 2009 in anticipation of a change of policy as a result of the Conservative win in 2010. There was a meaningful level of engagement by the NHS in the Assembly which helped to set regional plans for homes throughout the South East of England. If at that time the concept of healthy towns had been articulated, it would have been possible to insert reference to them into the regional spatial plans, as we did to the role of Eco Towns. However the coalition Government in an act of sheer vandalism ripped up the 9 regional plans to meet their ignorant ideology throwing away years of work by Councillors of all parties and those of us who were outside of the Party Political world. Thankfully the damage done to our democracy at a regional level did not damage local planning, implemented through the the Local Development Frameworks that each District or Borough Council was obliged to create. I was personally involved in helping to form several LDFs as a result of sitting on various Local Strategic Partnerships from 2001 – 2014. These Frameworks drilled down to the plans for individual sites and the clarity around which development achieved locally defined objectives. It was at this level at which the NHS was needed and was mostly absent from. On a good day and with pressure from local partners it was possible to persuade the PCTs and then the developing CCGs to participate in terms of ensuring that new homes were not planned without the issue of GP practices being considered, albeit in a relatively disconnected way. However the idea of including wisdom regarding hospital provision proved impossible, and the thought that public health practitioners might influence the way in which new homes and towns were constructed was entirely fanciful. I am thrilled to hear that Simon Stevens intends to use his influence to create healthy towns across the UK. It seems that an even bigger win would be to ensure that health objectives are considered as part of all town and village planning. This is the sort of joined up Government that activists like myself have only dreamed of before now, despite articulating such ideas for nearly two decades. I wish Simon Stevens well, and hope he can ensure that the ideas he is raising are fulfilled for the sake of future generations.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Parliament and Democracy, Planning Rules and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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