Devolution: how can you devolve health care when it’s already been devolved?

So, healthcare for Devon, Somerset, Torbay and PLYMOUTH is to be devolved to the new LEP.

Torbay already has its own integrated care scheme:

Pioneering the next steps in integrated care in Torbay and South Devon

Now, Plymouth gets its own (different) system financed by business rates.

How do you devolve two devolved systems to a new over-arching system – where only one person on the 20-member LEP has a health background?

Re-inventing the round wheel to make it square in the name of efficiency, or perhaps growth – who knows?

Plymouth has been chosen to pilot the Government’s new devolved health funding model, as the city’s public health chief takes a leading role in the national roll-out.

Following a meeting between MPs and Public Health England (PHE), the city has been chosen as one of the first in the country to fund health services using only income from business rates.

Plymouth’s director of public health, professor Kelechi Nnoaham, will also sit on PHE’s national planning team for the initiative to help monitor the impact of the new system.

The announcement marks the latest stage in the Government’s efforts to devolve revenue-raising powers. Councils have already expressed concerns about the impact of cuts to central grants and plans to fund services solely through locally-generated taxes.

Plymouth is already among the lowest-funded authorities in terms of public health grants, with an average spend per person of £47. But the council suggests prof. Nnoaham’s place on the national panel for the scheme will ensure the city’s interests are represented.

The council has been campaigning for fairer funding for public health in Plymouth for some time and has been lobbying at the highest level,” a spokesman said.

The unfair funding of public health was also highlighted by the Plymouth Fairness Commission.

“Our director of public health will be able to represent the interests of cities such as Plymouth. He has a strong professional reputation and will be able to ensure Plymouth influences national policy.”

The meeting with PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie was arranged by Plymouth Moore View MP Johnny Mercer. Mr Mercer has been campaigning on the issue of public health funding since his election in May, describing the local variation in grants – which sees some councils receive up to £185 per person – as “outrageous”.

He said he was “delighted” that Plymouth would have an opportunity to shape the new system at a national level.

“Public health funding was one of the first things I picked up on after being elected last year,” he said. “I wrote my first letter to Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Public Health, in June and have attempted to keep up the pressure in correspondence and on the floor of the House ever since.

“I think we still have a lot of work to do, but I am delighted we have the opportunity to influence thinking around business rates retention in respect of public health funding. And frankly, I could not think of a more intelligent and impassioned advocate than Kelechi.”