Questions have been asked about a shift of care responsibility to local councils.
And health bosses admitted they need the relationship with councils to make proposed changes work.
On Monday the first Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee took place, with four Kirklees and four Calderdale councillors scrutinising how care services will run in the community and how future changes to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital will affect people needing care, local councils and care providers.
Clr Robert Barraclough, Kirkburton Green, asked: “Will this new model actually deliver its savings?
“I’m particularly worried about how this will impact on budgets across both authorities. Will there be a transfer of responsibility to the local authority budgets?
Dr Matt Walsh, chief officer of Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), replied that a shift of responsibility worked two ways: “With the Better Care Fund (which involves redeploying NHS funding to local authority control) we rely on you as much as you rely on us for these other services. The risk exists on both sides of the relationship.”
Mr Walsh and Carol McKenna, chief officer at Greater Huddersfield CCG, admitted they needed to improve how they communicate the changes to the wider public, agreeing many people do not understand the technical language they use.
They said phase one will be to increase the community care services with a single point to access. Phase two will expand those services in the hope it will lead to reduced hospital admissions. It will mean double-funding some care services in both the hospital and community to make sure there are no gaps in care.
Phase three will then see the hospitals reconfigure services.
Clr Phil Scott, Almondbury Lib Dem, questioned why the health boards had claimed to have consulted local councillors when no-one had contacted him: “This report isn’t entirely accurate, in saying you have engaged local councillors it could mislead an awful lot of people.”
Mr Walsh said they had consulted with the Cabinets of both authorities adding: “Clearly we are still learning how best to engage with politicians.”
Mrs McKenna added: “We’ve talked to politicians at Overview and Scrutiny and Health and Wellbeing boards, we’ve had a lot of conversations with the same groups of people. We do need to talk about how we engage with individual politicians and groups.”
Clr Anne Collins, Ovenden Labour, questioned how the financial efficiencies would be met and Mrs McKenna explained that if community services increase, admissions to hospital should decrease, so it costs the hospital less.
Clr Collins replied: “There are a lot of ‘ifs’ about this, that’s my concern.”