The NHS must harness the strengths of districts

By Cllr John Fuller | 12 January 2021

The vaccination programme is ramping up at pace, it’s a national strategy needing local delivery, needing partnership in place.

District councils working for their 20 million residents are key players on the vaccination programme pitch. We’re trusted deliverers, we’re rooted in the communities across our villages, towns and cities. We can harness a breadth of our physical and social assets, from our football teams to village halls, from our community and faith groups to street champions.

As a recent report from Grant Thornton demonstrated, Districts are practical collaborators, delivery agents and system leaders. Where big government and centralised control have struggled under challenging circumstances, Districts have continued to be the first line of local accountability, support and protection for the communities and businesses they serve.

Ministers have often recognised this, asking we play the lead role in making sure rough sleepers access vaccinations. These are among the most vulnerable in our communities, we know them, we can reach out to them, supporting and encouraging them to receive the vaccine.

The NHS must now also harness our strengths. While it delivers the vaccinations, we can shape the ecosystem, build trust through familiar settings, bring in hard to reach communities, mobilise voluntary groups, set up community transport, and more - a partnership in place.  

Collaboration is communication. The NHS must help us help them, sharing with us their aspirations, plans and, crucially, the data, so that we can get our communities to rally behind them to make the greatest success of the vaccination programme. The future of the country depends on it.

Cllr John Fuller OBE is chairman of the District Councils’ Network


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