Mark Whitehead 21 September 2018

Merger between council and the NHS to be considered for Scottish Borders region

A plan to merge a council and the NHS to form a single public authority is to be considered for the Scottish Borders region.

Councillors will discuss the proposal next week for a new authority which they believe could improve services for residents.

It would mean the combined council and health board taking charge of 9,000 staff and more than £400m in public funding.

A report to going to the council describes it as an 'unprecedented opportunity' which could deliver a 'significant improvement in outcomes' for the region.

It says several challenges have prompted the plan including a reduction in public spending, a sparse and ageing population, persistent social inequalities, the likely impact of Brexit on the region and the devolution of powers from Westminster to Holyrood creating an 'imbalance' with the authority's English neighbours.

A council statement said: 'If approved at the full meeting of SBC on Tuesday, the submission will be made to the Scottish government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities as part of the joint local governance review which aims to consider how powers, responsibilities and resources are shared across national and local government and with communities.

'The proposal argues that a single public authority would be a logical next step following a series of Scottish government actions in recent years which have aimed to eliminate boundaries and obstacles between public-sector organisations to deliver improved outcomes for residents.'

Photo: © Walter Baxter

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