Mid Wales

Powys council backs 'radical' joint post plan

Plans to merge two senior posts at a council and a local health board (LHB) have been backed by councillors.

Officials intend to combine a director's job, with responsibility for social services at Powys council, with a chief executive's role at the LHB.

A council report said the proposals for the county were both radical and a first for Wales.

Both public bodies have been examining ways of working together to cut costs and improve service delivery.

But a consultant's report in June said there were a number of barriers to a full merger.

The local authority voted in favour of merging the posts of Powys LHB's chief executive and the council's strategic director of care and wellbeing at a meeting of the full council. The LHB approved the proposal at a meeting last month.

A council report said: "The proposals are radical and it would be the first time that such an arrangement has been created within Wales.

"The Welsh Assembly Government are aware of the proposals and are supportive provided the reporting lines and governance arrangements between the two organisations are clearly established."

Chris Mann, the chairman of Powys LHB, said he was "delighted" that the council had approved the proposal.

He added: "The health board had already demonstrated its commitment to joint working when it approved the proposal at its August meeting.

"The endorsement by the county council means that we can now move forward on this important initiative which will deliver improved and integrated services for the people of Powys."

There had been plans for a joint council and LHB chief executive, which were unveiled in March 2009. That was followed by an agreement by the organisations to merge in one of the first arrangements of its kind.

But a report by consultants KPMG has thrown it into doubt, although both organisations still have plans to work together.

KPMG said the barriers to a full merger included the LHB's £20m deficit and different decision making processes, although it identified savings of between £6m and £14m if a merger went ahead.

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