Councils should be given powers after Brexit to issue visas to foreign workers based on their assessment of local need, according to think tank Localis.
It says a comprehensive immigration system that puts 'place-based needs' first is essential after the UK leaves the EU and proposes 'a deal whereby visa quotas per sector are devolved to local government as they are best suited to know the needs for growth in their area.'
The report, Local Practice, long-term sustainability through place-based health, also says councils should play a key role in promoting public health by means of a 'prevention premium'.
This would be along the lines of the pupil premium given to schools to help children from poorer homes, reflecting the areas where public health interventions can be most effective.
Factors would include levels of unemployment, the percentage of people over 65, prevalence of self-reported smokers and hospital admissions for substance misuse.
Localis says the Government must become 'more serious about developing and encouraging consumer-led healthcare, focusing on methods for disease prevention and reducing demand by incentivising individuals to look after their own health better.'
Local authorities in partnership with local NHS trusts are in a better position to identify their and recruit for themselves.
It adds that 'even outside of healthcare' local authorities can identify key sectors where immigration is needed and can fill gaps whilst creating incentives for people to take opportunities to train and work in their areas.
Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran, said: 'Local Practice is a case for place that is centred not around the need for power transfer, but a localist case to liberate resources, assets and latent potential that exist within every community.
'It is a call to rationally manage limited resources and deploy data and new technology for the best results.
'As such the report offers, we hope, a prescription to integrate agents of health with guardians of place, in the right way for the sake of delivering the best and most appropriate care to people through all stages of life.'