Roughly every quarter, I visit the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital for a coffee and chat about cross border health issues with Tom Taylor, Chief Executive of the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust. Did so yesterday. Over recent years the main issue has always been funding of 'Welsh' patients in 'English' hospitals. From a Royal Shrewsbury perspective, there has not been enough money being paid by the Powys Local Health Board since the National Assembly was created in 1999. The 'underpayment' was usually put at about £2 million per annum. The position was resolved when a new 'Protocol' was signed on April 1st this year between the Assembly Government and the Department of Health. I would like to explain on this blog how this protocol is going to operate, but I gave it up as too complex - which is why a fantastic piece of news attracted almost no media comment.
A subject of great interest to both Tom Taylor and me is the discussion that is currently taking place between Powys County Council and the Powys Local Health Board about developing a closer relationship. These discussions are taking place behind closed doors, and the Council seems to be acting in a very secretive way at the moment. Its difficult to find out what's going on. We know that there is discussion taking place about the two organisations sharing a 'joint' Chief Executive - which seems a sensible idea to me. But why not go further? Why not a full on consummation of the relationship - creating a Powys Public Services Council, covering health, education and everything else that the Council does. This is radical stuff, and would be a first in Britain. Its so radical that it would have to be implemented in association with the Assembly Government. The more I've thought about this, the more sensible and obvious it seems. I bet that's what they are talking about at all these secret meetings.
Perhaps we'll find out on June 22nd. I'm told that the Council bosses are holding a seminar in Welshpool to discuss their ideas with Montgomeryshire Councillors. I wonder if I can wangle myself an invite. I'd rather hear it first hand than depend on someone passing the information to me second hand.