COUNCILLORS have warned NHS bosses not to “go round in circles” in reshaping healthcare in Lancashire.

The county’s health scrutiny committee was discussing how community services could be improved in response to the publication last month of the government’s long-term plan for the health service.   

The document restated a commitment to focusing on so-called “neighbourhoods” – localities made up of between 30,000 and 50,000 patients.

Lancashire is piloting a project in four areas – Chorley, Burnley, Blackpool and Skelmersdale – to assess what can be done to tackle the issues which have the biggest effect on health in communities.

The £471,000 scheme will focus on patients with multiple conditions and how services can be co-ordinated by GPs to reduce the risk of complications and keep people living independently.

But several councillors spoke of their “frustration” at existing attempts at neighbourhood working in recent years.

“These groups come out with the same worthy reports and the same conclusions, year in year out,” Lancashire County Councillor Cosima Towneley said.

The meeting heard that Lancashire’s expected share of an extra £20.5bn for the NHS by 2023 will see each of the 44 designated neighbourhood areas in the county receive £600,000 in each of the next five years.

“If we’re going to be putting a lot more money into these areas, we’ve got to understand how best to use it,” Gary Raphael, finance director for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said.   

He added: “That’s why these pilots are so important."

Andrew Bennett, the commissioning director for the ICS, said he hoped improvements would come as the health service began to be held more accountable.