Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill
Baroness Andrews (Baronesses in Waiting, HM Household; Labour)
There was inevitably a cost at the review stage of the existing complaints procedure, which was traditionally borne by the relevant authorities. We recognise that there will be a cost to the commissions in carrying out their functions of independently considering complaints. That is a logical outcome. Therefore, there will need to be a mechanism for covering the costs associated with the work.
I assure Members of the Committee that no scheme of charging will be implemented without a full analysis of the impact, and we would intend to consult on that. For example, we would want any scheme of charges to contribute to the aim of resolving complaints locally, and certainly not to hinder it. Over the coming months, the Department of Health and the shadow commissions will analyse the costs associated with review activity and drawing up proposals for a charging structure that fairly reflects the transfer of the function to the commissions. Those proposals will be subject to full consultation. I should also emphasise that there will be no intention of charging complainants at all. We are talking about charges that are, as it were, costs paid to the commission by the relevant authorities.
We do not want to pre-empt the analysis but will want to see some link between, for example, charging and workload, so that if bodies or authorities that have fewer cases need further action to achieve a resolution, they do not bear a disproportionate burden. We will be looking at the full range of options as to how the provisions can be made to work sensibly.