Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Committee (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 14th November 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Hussein-Ece Baroness Hussein-Ece Liberal Democrat 6:30 pm, 14th November 2011

My Lords, I want to make a few brief comments on Amendments 50 and 52C. I listened to all of the arguments about the public health specialists being on the national board, and I think it is really important. If we are going to have, or aspire to, a national health service that is about prevention and improving health rather than just treating it, there needs to be somebody on the board who attends or has that specialism and brings in the local government perspective. I was involved nearly 10 years ago in appointing one of the early public health directors. It was a joint appointment between the PCT and the local authority that I represented. That person sat on the senior management board of both the local authority and the PCT and was able to bring that expertise to both of those boards. Importantly, in the local government setting, he was able to bring together the directorships of education, environment and social services and to ensure that, when we were trying to address issues such as teenage pregnancies-which is still a massive problem in this country-it was everyone's responsibility. It was not just over there; it was not just a health problem: it was a borough-wide problem. In terms of bringing that thinking on to the national stage-as other noble Lords have mentioned in this and other debates-local government has to be seen to be a key member if we are to aspire to improving the health of the population. Someone experienced in public health should have a very strong voice on the national, as well as the local, CCGs .

I now turn to Amendment 52C in the name of my noble friend Lady Jolly, which aims to have as a board member someone who is also the chair of HealthWatch England. I support having the patient's voice heard at a national level. I listened very carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, was saying: the important thing is to have the voice there. Quite often, with a group of 11 or however many it will be of the "great and the good", it is very important that we have somebody on that board who is going to represent the wider public as well-a lay person who can bring about some of the thinking that is going on locally around the country. The proposed chair of HealthWatch England might be bound in to some sort of collective decision-making which might sometimes make him or her quite unpopular with the other local HealthWatch organisations across the country. The most important thing we should be focusing on is that there is somebody on the board who has the authority, who can bring the voice of the patient and the public to this board.