Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:00 pm on 16th October 2003.

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Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Crossbench 1:00 pm, 16th October 2003

I should have liked to add my name to these amendments but due to a clerical oversight on my part I did not. Of course the Government have tried to put the needs of patients and their families at the heart of things. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, who has just spoken, I view this matter as an oversight. I am flabbergasted that these amendments were not incorporated in the Bill before it reached us.

I have a major concern regarding patients who are extremely ill. They will be in-patients in the foundation hospitals. They are quite different from the medically well who will constitute the public who will be consulted and may join a board of governors. They are very different from the medically slightly unwell who will probably express opinions out in the community. When patients are very ill, no one should underestimate how vulnerable they are and how difficult it is for them to express concern or dissatisfaction with any aspect of their care. Attention to detail is absolutely crucial in improving the quality of care that they receive. Without a patients forum right at the heart of the provider who is providing services for these very ill people, I fear that their vulnerability could be overlooked and that they could be subject to a paternalistic and, dare I say, even arrogant approach by the management of a foundation trust who, for whatever benevolent reason, believe that they know best what is right for those patients and do not give them a forum in which to express themselves. I find it astounding that we do not establish a patients forum right at the heart of this measure. I urge the Minister to look very seriously at the proposals before us.