Health and Social Care Bill — Report (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 27th February 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Crossbench 10:15 pm, 27th February 2012

I follow on from the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, and will speak to Amendments 99 and 100. There has been a great deal of debate in Committee and now at Report about the duties of the new clinical commissioning groups and how the commissioning of health services should be improved. I will briefly expand on some of the points that have been made in previous debates on this subject.

We know that the commissioning of cancer services could often be better. I remind the House again of my interests in this matter. It is crucial that a range of experts are involved in commissioning. As the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, has just said, they will need all the help they can get. It is crucial that expertise is used and sought, for example from people operating within the many cancer networks that currently do such an excellent job in supporting cancer commissioning.

I welcome new duty on clinical commissioning groups provided by new Section 14V, which commands that they will need to obtain appropriate advice from professionals with a broad range of expertise in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, has tabled an amendment which slightly expands on that duty and mentions the need for expertise in the whole of the patient pathway. That amendment is interesting as well.

I also believe that clinical commissioning groups, during their authorisation process and annual review, should be required to demonstrate how and where they obtain advice to commission cancer services. This would be a very important point of transparency. Ideally this should include, for example, a cancer lead in each clinical commissioning group who is responsible for liaising with the clinical networks and local authorities to ensure a coordinated approach to commissioning cancer services across the pathway.

I should like to ask the Minister two brief questions concerning clinical commissioning groups' new duty to obtain appropriate advice. First, could he update the House on how the Government will monitor the implementation of this crucial new duty? How will clinical commissioning groups be required to report on it, and at what level of detail? Will it, as I mentioned, include named leads, and how will these reports be monitored? Secondly, what steps will be taken if a clinical commissioning group fails to fulfill this crucial duty, and by whom will these steps be taken? The role of cancer networks and the expertise that they bring to bear is key. That should not be lost through this process.