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 Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 10:15 pm, 27th February 2012

My Lords, this has been an interesting and worthwhile debate and I appreciate the concern that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and other noble Lords have demonstrated throughout the Bill's proceedings to ensure that the board and CCGs benefit from as wide a range of advice as possible. The Government have been clear that everyone with a role to play in securing the best possible services for local people should be able to do so. The NHS Future Forum recommended that we strengthen the legislative duties to help achieve this, which is why the duties on the board and CCGs to obtain appropriate advice were strengthened in another place to incorporate the wording used to define the comprehensive health service and to ensure that it was clear that such advice should come from persons who, taken together, have a broad range of professional expertise.

I mentioned clinical senates on the last group of amendments. Of course we envisage a role for clinical senates in the arrangements for how these duties are fulfilled, providing not just clinical but multidisciplinary advice from professionals from public health and social care alongside patient and public representation and other groups as appropriate. The noble Baroness, Lady Masham, asked me specifically about clinical senates. They will be established as strategic advisory bodies, with a clear focus on quality improvement and improving outcomes. They will bring together clinicians with strong clinical credibility, drawn from across the disciplines, as I have mentioned. They will include patients and members of the public as well. They will have a role, too, in advancing public understanding of health and healthcare.

Why do we need clinical senates? Commissioning is at its best when it is a collaboration of professionals, based on a shared drive for continuous quality improvement. Maximum participation will be key here. The Future Forum report showed:

"There was universal agreement that people would be", better served if their,

"care were designed around their needs and based on the input of the public, patients and carers, health and social care professionals", the voluntary sector, "and specialist societies". The exact detail of who will be part of the clinical senates, the number that will exist and the roles that they may have are all to be determined through a process of discussion and engagement, but I hope that I have outlined, at least in broad terms, what they will be there to do.