A NEWLY authorised health body for the region is to share office space with Hambleton Council in a move which is hoped will forge stronger links between the two.

In April, NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will take over responsibility for planning and commissioning health services for the NHS in the area from the Primary Care Trust (PCT).

On Wednesday (February 20), the NHS Commissioning Board announced it had approved the CCG on the condition that it develops a financial plan for the next three years and shows how it can be delivered.

It also had to appoint another doctor to its governing body, which has already been done. It is part of a national restructuring of the way health services are administered.

The new body will move into spare office space at Hambleton District Council’s headquarters at Stone Cross in Northallerton.

Councillors at all levels in the county have been at loggerheads with health bosses in recent months, with relations souring over proposals to downgrade services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton and anger at the PCT’s massive budget deficit.

In December, North Yorkshire County Councillors lined up to give a damming criticism of the NHS for allowing a deficit to snowball to a level that is expected to reach £60m across the county by March, voting to send a statement health bosses making it clear they would not condone any cuts.

The new clinical commissioning group is to inherit the primary care trust’s deficit. This week, Hambleton District Council said the sharing of office space with the new health body would be a chance to keep a close eye on decisions that affected health services.

In a statement to the council at its meeting on Tuesday (February 19), Council leader Neville Huxtable said: “With the arrival of the Clinical Commissioning Group I thought we should find out their plans for the health of Hambleton.

“I have met the interim lay chairman and spoke to members. He agreed and a date is being arranged.

“For too long we have talked about cuts and efficiency savings. This is an example of introducing business thinking into the world of local government. There is much more to do.”

Councillor Tony Hall said it signified more than just an economic arrangement for building sharing.

He said as a council they had a duty to work with health agencies for the benefit of residents in the district: “I think we all as members should take the opportunity to talk to the health agency. It’s a new way forward.”