The Health Devolution Commission

The Health Devolution Commission continues to advocate for a devolved approach to healthcare delivery and accountability.

The Commission brings together two former, Labour and Conservative, Secretary of States for Health, Andy Burnham and Stephen Dorrell, with three former Health Ministers including Norman Lamb, Alastair Burt and Phil Hope. They are joined by senior professional figures from the health, mental health, local government and third sectors.

In advance of the Health and Care Bill the Commission published its latest report Levelling Up Health and has advocated for a series of changes to the Bill in the House of Commons and House of Lords.

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Recently Published

We need an equal partnership between the NHS and councils on health and care – MJ Article.

The Health Devolution Commission set out in its Levelling Up Health report  that the 42 new Integrated Care Systems should each be a genuine partnership of equals between the NHS and local government if they are to achieve their ambitious aims of improving the population’s health as well as providing better and more integrated health and social care systems. Unfortunately, the current Health and Care Bill does not create the necessary statutory basis for such an equal partnership.

Now the Parliamentary Select Committee for Local Government has flagged its concern. Their recent report Progress towards Devolution categorically concludes: ‘The proposals of the cross-party Health Devolution Commission should be the basis for health devolution.’ However, the Health and Care Bill has only one clause which refers to the need to establish an Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) whilst the Integrated Care Board (ICB) warrants eight clauses. It is particularly notable that there is no legislation to provide for:

  • a clear constitution for governance and membership of ICPs including clarity that the chair of the ICP should be a democratically elected person (local authority or combined authority);
  • clarity about how ICPs will produce their Health and Wellbeing strategy for their ICS including arrangements to have funding and the capacity to employ staff;
  • appropriate power and mechanisms for ICPs to hold ICBs to account for ensuring their plans comply with their strategy
  • a vice-chair of the ICB being a democratically elected local or combined authority leader.

Read the full MJ article by Steve Barwick and Phil Hope here. 

In advance of the Health and Care Bill the Commission has now published its latest report Levelling Up Health.

‘Levelling Up Health’, makes 28 detailed recommendations to the Government’s Health and Care Bill including on the purpose of the reform and the future power relationship between the NHS, local government and other stakeholders including the VCSE and patient representative bodies. It says better – more personalised, local and integrated – NHS, social care and public health services and a relentless focus on addressing health inequalities should be at the heart of the Government’s reorganisation.

  1. Population health improvement and reducing health inequalities should be primary purposes of ICSs that are written on to the face of the Bill
  1. ICSs should promote a ‘health in all policies’ approach and encourage greater action by other public, voluntary and private sector organisations
  1. The Government should make a public commitment to parity of esteem between the NHS and Local Government
  1. The Government should publicly acknowledge that ‘place based partnerships’, based on the principle of subsidiarity and the footprints of councils with adult social care responsibilities, are the building blocks of the Integrated Care Systems and the principal level at which integration, and delivery, of services should be taken forward.
  1. The presumption should be that the ICS Partnership is chaired by a Local Government leader – or Metro Mayor if agreed by a relevant Combined Authority –  and include a range of members from the NHS, Local Government, Universities, LEP(s), the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector and patient representative bodies.
  1. The ICS NHS Board should fulfil its mandate in ways that are compliant with the ICS Partnership’s Health and Wellbeing Plan. The Government should produce detailed statutory guidance on how the ICS NHS Board will have ‘due regard’ to the plan of the Partnership including a ‘comply or explain’ approach.

Read the full report here.

Who we are


  • Rt Hon Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and former Secretary of State for Health (Co-chair)
  • Rt Hon Sir Norman Lamb, former Minister for Community and Social Care (Co-chair)
  • Rt Hon Alistair Burt, former Minister for Community and Social Care
  • Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, former Secretary of State for Health
  • Phil Hope, former Minister of State for Care Services
  • Dr Linda Patterson, former Medical Director of CHI and Vice President of RCP
  • Peter Hay, former President ADASS


  • Cllr Paulette Hamilton, Vice Chair, LGA Community Wellbeing Committee
  • Sarah Walter and Michael Wood, NHS Confederation
  • Clive Grimshaw, Strategic Lead for Health and Social Care, London Councils
  • Professor Jo Pritchard and Dr Andrew Catto, Social Enterprise UK
  • David Weaver, President , BACP
  • Steve Mulligan, Four Nations Lead, BACP
  • Seamus O’Neill, Chair, the Northern Health Science Alliance
  • Rob Webster, Chief Executive, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Jo Webster, Chief Officer, West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership
  • Sarah Price, Interim Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership
  • Warren Heppolette, Executive Lead, Strategy & System Development, Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership

Click here to find out more about the Health Devolution Commissioners.

For all written and oral evidence see what we do page.


If you are interested in supporting the work of the Health Devolution Commission then please get in contact via [email protected]