Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
144B: After Clause 155, insert the following new Clause—“Complaints about care services(1) The Care Quality Commission (CQC) must establish procedures for investigating complaints of conduct which breaches, or potentially breaches, the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (“the regulations”).(2) In establishing the procedures, CQC must take into account, by regular surveys, the views of—(a) appropriate representative bodies,(b) those representing users and their families, and(c) such other persons or groups of persons as it considers appropriate.(3) Nothing in this section affects the requirement for registered persons to comply with regulation 16 of the regulations.(4) Complaints under this section include those made to CQC about regulated care services by users, their relatives or advocates, staff, or other relevant persons. (5) A user of a service, their relative or advocate may make a complaint directly to CQC.(6) CQC may, after due consideration, redirect a complaint to the registered person where it is satisfied that the conduct complained of does not constitute a breach of the regulations.(7) CQC must—(a) regularly publish a written report which includes examples of breaches of the regulations, and(b) provide guidance to registered persons and others to illustrate how such complaints can be resolved to the satisfaction of service users, their relatives or advocates, staff or another relevant person.(8) CQC must regularly review the procedures that it has established under this section.(9) Procedures established under this section must be made available by the registered person to any person who receives services, or to their relative or advocate.(10) CQC must publish information about procedures established under this section and take appropriate steps to make the procedures available to any person or group who may require such information.”Member’s explanatory statementThe amendment requires the Care Quality Commission to establish procedures for investigating complaints of conduct which breaches, or potentially breaches, the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.
My Lords, there is a series of amendments in this group. My amendment does not really relate to the others in the group, but it is about an important issue.
In Committee, I raised the problem that a number of members of the public and the Relatives & Residents Association have brought to my attention: in a minority of care homes, if residents or relatives complain, the homes take retaliatory action in the form of making visits even more restrictive than they currently are and, in some cases, even evict, or threaten to evict, the person on whose behalf the complaint has been made. As I said, this is in a minority of homes— over the past few years I have been impressed by how many homes have continued to provide high-quality care in very difficult circumstances. None the less, this is an important issue.
In 2019, the Relatives & Residents Association was coming across at least one case a week of such intimidatory behaviour. We discussed this in Committee. The Minister said that she did not really think that the department had received much evidence of this, that in any case residents and their relatives and friends should complain to the home in the first instance, and that the Care Quality Commission would also pick up concerns.
This is a very confusing picture. If you go to the CQC’s website, you will see that it states:
“we do not settle individual complaints ourselves, but we still want you to tell us about your experiences of care.”
To most people, that is pretty confusing. If you are worried that a home is going to be intimidatory in its response to legitimate complaints raised, you are hardly likely to have confidence in its complaints system.
Up until about 2008, the CQC did take individual complaints but, due to a funding cut, it stopped doing so, even though, in Scotland, the equivalent body investigates specific complaints, and the predecessors of CQC investigated complaints. We know that there is huge pressure in care homes. We also know that some care homes are continuing extremely restrictive practices around relatives and friends being able to visit. This has become quite a serious problem in which, while they may not be in total lockdown, they come near to it, clearly more for the convenience of the home than for a public health reason. My amendment simply asks the CQC to go back to receiving and dealing with individual complaints in these cases. I hope that the Minister will perhaps be sympathetic to this. I beg to move.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, introduced his Amendment 144B on complaints about care services very well. He is absolutely right: this is a muddle. Are people to go to the CQC or to a particular home when they wish to make a complaint? Any complaints system where the person making the complaint feels in a less strong position than the organisation to which they are complaining, or indeed—sometimes they might even put this strongly—which is wielding power over them is a complaints system that will not work. I hope that the Minister will understand this, and will respond and ensure, first, that there is a clear and understood system, and, secondly, that if some funding needs to be restored to the CQC to take us back to where we were, that will happen.
I want to speak particularly to two of the issues covered in this wide-ranging group of amendments: the licensing of cosmetic procedures and medical practitioners’ financial and non-pecuniary interests. I also have sympathy for the other two, on registration of social workers and hospital rehabilitation accommodation.
The amendments laid by the Minister, beginning with 153A, on the licensing of cosmetic procedures by local authorities and, indeed, Amendment 169 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, on cosmetic procedures, which I have signed, set out models for registration for those who work using devices that breach the skin and who are not covered by medical registration or, currently, by any effective regulation. I know that considerable discussions have taken place between Committee and Report, and it is welcome that the Government have felt that they can now lay their own amendments, signed by the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, and the noble Lord, Lord Lansley. I look forward to hearing the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, on those amendments.
Amendment 184ZBB in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, which I have signed, brings us back to the debate on medical practitioners’ financial and non-pecuniary interests. Our debate in Committee highlighted the problem that the financial and non-pecuniary interests arrangements do not match those that many others in the public sector have to make, where the registration body holds the information. The GMC has said once again that it does not particularly like the style of this amendment and would prefer the records to be held directly by the employer. However, I believe the argument that the registration body, which also has the power to take action, should be the place where these are kept.
I hope that, regardless of whether a vote is called, the Minister will take this away and look at it in more detail. We need an open, transparent and clear system of registration of financial and non-pecuniary interests.
My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 169 and 181. I have my name down for Amendment 169 on the licencing of cosmetic procedures. During the passage of this Bill, I have had my eyes opened to just how enormous this industry is and how a great many people are putting themselves at huge risk. I have heard of some disturbing cases in which procedures with collagen have gone wrong. At a conference about plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, one-third of the attendees were from the plastic surgery field and two-thirds from cosmetic procedures, which shows how popular this is becoming.
All Members of your Lordships’ House taking part in these amendments share the desire that these procedures should be registered and safe. I am very pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, has accepted that this matter needs addressing and making safe. I thank him and his team for the hard work that they must have gone through in producing these amendments.
Amendment 181 is a very practical and important amendment, which I could not resist supporting and speaking to. It would reduce bed-blocking—a most unfortunate problem for a busy hospital that needs all its acute beds for ill patients, and frustrating for patients who still need rehabilitation but not in acute beds. These patients cannot go home because their accommodation is not suitable for their needs; for example, they might have to use a wheelchair and they need time to get organised. One of the problems is the time that it takes to get necessary adaptations completed. Housing authorities and social services need to work together with health authorities. If suitable rehabilitation accommodation is available, it can also be used for patients who need specialised treatment that is a long distance from their home. St James’s hospital in Leeds has a hotel for such patients, and incorporated into the hospital is a Marks & Spencer food shop; this is a very valuable service. I hope that the Minister will agree that these provisions should be available throughout the country.
My Lords, I am most grateful to the Government for tabling Amendments 153A and 157A; I will not be moving my related Amendment 169. I should declare that I am married to an academic dermatologist, and that I am vice-president of the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health.
I am very grateful to the officials with whom I have had many discussions over the issue of cosmetic procedures. These government amendments are a welcome step in the right direction, by ensuring that individuals who carry out cosmetic procedures such as Botox fillers, threads under the skin and so on will have to meet consistent safety standards. Anything that breaches the barrier function of the skin—going through the live layer of cells of the epidermis—can cause inflammation, introduce infection and cause scarring and other reactions. The government amendments are most welcome because they are broad-reaching and tackle the real problem of people doing things to other people with no proper training and in premises that are not even properly inspected and licensed.
Perhaps I could just ask the Government two questions on this. First, when we had discussions we were considering the use of the term “energy-based device” to cover all the different modalities that can be used to get different types of radiation, whether as heat or whatever, through that layer—the barrier of the epidermis. That phrase would have captured such things in future regulations. Can the Minister assure me that subsection (2)(e) of the proposed new clause will also cover forms of energy not in the wording of the amendment, such as radio frequency and ultrasound devices, which are currently in use on the high street for cosmetic skin-tightening purposes? The idea is, of course, that they produce a small amount of scarring and tighten the skin, but if that goes wrong then you have a problem.
Secondly, can the Government confirm that, in order to obtain a licence, practitioners will be required to meet the agreed standards for training and education and that, in order to maintain their licence, they will be required to undergo appraisal and report adverse events so that such events can be collated and appropriately followed up on?
It is important to acknowledge the wider issue around the safety of cosmetic surgery overall. The fact remains that, nine years after the Keogh review, recommendations to improve the safety of cosmetic surgery still have not been fully implemented. People who come to the UK using the term “surgeon”, which they may be in their own country but are not registered with the GMC, cannot undertake surgical procedures; even if they are registered in their own country, or if they are registered here but undertake procedures in premises that are not CQC inspected, they are acting illegally and subject to prosecution. However, there is a catch: any doctor on the General Medical Council register can undertake cosmetic procedures, whatever their training, if they do so in premises that have been inspected. No specific qualifications have been required by the GMC and there is no curriculum or assessment process, so patients can still experience unacceptable and sometimes shocking aspects of care.
There may be a solution. In 2017, the intercollegiate cosmetic surgery certification scheme, supported by the four royal colleges of surgeons in the UK and Ireland, has been developed to keep patients safe and raise standards. That scheme is supported by all relevant surgical specialties. I hope that the Government can provide assurance that they will put increasing pressure on the GMC to work towards cosmetic surgery credentialing, which will be welcome and long overdue, and that such a scheme will include not only those surgeons but people such as dermatological surgeons who may then move into cosmetic procedures.
Amendment 181, in my name and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, is about hospital rehabilitation accommodation. Rehabilitation units need to be there for people who need step-down care but cannot get home. These facilities need to have appropriate rehabilitation, such as gyms and hydrotherapy, the right range of staff, such as physiotherapists and people who can support patients psychologically as well, as they may have been very traumatised. Their environment should, overall, support recovery. We can learn from the military rehabilitation units and the new NHS rehabilitation centre near Loughborough, because there is evidence that people recover quicker in these. Then, with a good community rehabilitation plan, they can move home to improve co-ordination and integration, and continue with their rehabilitation better.
Lastly, I would like to address the amendment whose lead name is that of the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, and to which I have added my name. This is a crucial part of patient safety and arises out of her very important review, First Do No Harm. I declare that I have been developing teaching materials on informed consent with the Welsh Government and that I chair the National Mental Capacity Forum. The issue of informed consent has become very important.
In clinical practice, there is always unconscious bias. This is far wider than direct funding that may go into a clinician’s pocket. There is a risk of incentives created by past successes of which the person is proud, such as funding for their department or staff, and grants that may help towards their own career progression or higher qualifications—there are myriad influences. This amendment would allow a patient to find out about a clinician to whom they may have been referred and to ascertain any issues of such influences by such a register being publicly available.
The GMC has suggested that such a register is best held at local level, but clinicians move around. Some do extra contracted sessions in other units, while GPs are self-employed. There could also be a consortium of people working in private practice. One way to hold a register that could be checked up on regularly would be if it was held by the General Medical Council. In an ideal world, it should of course be multiprofessional, but we have to start somewhere, and it would seem sensible to start with the medical register, as almost all the people to whom a patient is referred are doctors on that register—although people may sometimes have been referred directly to specialist nurses, such as wound-care nurses and so on. Holding it centrally would ensure the register is accurate and accessible; it would be kept up to date through appraisal and therefore enforceable. It could eventually become multiprofessional in scope. I hope the Government will take this concept forward.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Finlay, for supporting Amendment 184ZA, which I have tabled. I think the noble Baroness, Lady Neuberger, is going to speak—yes, she is—and I look forward to that. I very much hope that other noble Lords will want to support this amendment, too. They would be in very good company with the royal colleges and the remarkable past editor of the British Medical Journal, Professor Fiona Godlee, who has done a lot on this subject. We have also had contact with a host of doctors and some very rewarding conversations with them. Many feel it would actually be to their benefit to make this all transparent and accessible to the public.
I pay tribute to Simon Whale and Professor Sir Cyril Chantler, who have done sterling work on this amendment. I know that Sir Cyril is known to many in this House because he has so many qualities: of leadership, clinical management and research, and in lots of other fields. This is my one opportunity to pay tribute to him through the Bill.
I also thank my noble friend the Minister and his officials. They have given their precious time, working very hard with me and my colleagues throughout the Bill’s passage. I mention particularly the government amendments concerning the declaration of industry payments to doctors and others that my noble friend introduced in Committee, and which I thoroughly welcomed.
Turning to the amendment before us, I am delighted to say that together we have fashioned a form of words which reaches, I hope, common ground. Together with my team, we have constantly amended many amendments in discussing with officials what they thought was particularly important and what we thought was important. I think we have reached a happy place. My noble friend the Minister and his officials deserve praise and thanks for their tireless efforts and, unreservedly, I give those to them now.
In Committee, we debated an amendment on establishing a register of doctors’ interests. My noble friend made the point that this information should be collected locally by those who employ doctors, rather than nationally by the GMC. I understand what the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, said about it making sense to have the GMC involved, but in the end we agreed that this information should be collected locally. The problem is that these declarations are often out of date or incomplete, and in some cases the information is not collected at all, so it is very difficult for patients and the public to find out where that information is—and now they will have to go to the employer of the doctor. Sometimes it is hard for them even to find out if it exists, so I understand the logic that has just been proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, that the GMC should be the body that collects this information. However, we have had very strong pushback on this. So, in the end, we have agreed with my noble friend that this information should be collected locally and made available to patients and the public.
Amendment 184ZBB simply puts into law what should be happening already. It would require any organisation that employs, contracts with or commissions a medical practitioner to provide medical services, or provides practice rights—we put that in because we wanted to cover the private sector as well—to obtain from that doctor a declaration of his or her financial and nonpecuniary interests. This, as I have said, can be done locally and it will be done through the annual appraisal that trusts have to carry out with employees. I think the missing piece in this puzzle is the doctors’ regulator. This amendment requires the GMC to take reasonable steps to assure itself that doctors are providing this information locally: that is very important. Following discussions with the Minister’s officials, the amendment now also requires the CQC to assure itself that employers are collecting the information and publishing it. We think this is sensible and I am pleased that we are all agreed.
I hope this puts all of us—my noble friend, the GMC and those of us who have tabled this amendment and support it—on the same page. However, I would be very concerned if none of this was laid down in legislation. These requirements and responsibilities are clearly spelled out in law at present, and we see from the research that this leads to very patchy compliance. This is not acceptable to any of us. So, finally, this amendment is simple and clear and is aligned with the position of the Government and the GMC. It requires employers and doctors merely to do what they should already be doing, but are not in all cases. It places a light but important duty on the GMC and the CQC to assure themselves that doctors and employers are indeed doing what they should. This is in the interests of doctors. Indeed, Professor Carl Heneghan, in oral evidence to our review First Do No Harm, stated:
“I think it’s important that if I’m treating you, you know who’s paying me.”
We owe it to patients and the wider public to improve transparency and to ensure that nothing undermines trust in our medical professionals. I hope my noble friend the Minister will agree that this amendment does achieve this in a way that he can support and that it fulfils all our aims.
My Lords, I support the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, in what she has just said, as well as my noble friend Lady Finlay and the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton. I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, for the extraordinary work she did on First Do No Harm, which led—gradually—to this amendment. I too pay tribute to Cyril Chantler, who I first knew when serving on the General Medical Council with him. I declare an interest as chair of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and of Whittington Health NHS Trust. I am, as I just said, a former member of the General Medical Council, and I am somewhat surprised, I must say, that it has said yet again, including this afternoon by email, that it does not really support this.
The only point I want to make that has not been made so far by the other three speakers on the subject is that I spoke to the medical directors at both the NHS trusts I chair. In the case of UCH, we have three medical directors; at the Whittington, we have only one. All four, to a man and woman, are strongly supportive of this amendment and this direction of travel. They think it is important for both doctors and patients. It is not only to protect patients; it is to protect doctors and to make it really clear that doctors are being transparent in their practice about who is paying them and who is paying their research funds and putting that money into what used to be called, in my early days in the NHS, a “little slush fund”. If the trust medical directors support this, I really think we should encourage the GMC to think again, and I very much hope that the message to the GMC from this House will be that it should think again. I also very much hope that the Minister will look closely at this again and see how far he can take it, because there is really no doubt that this should be supported.
My Lords, this group of amendments concerns the licensing of non-surgical cosmetic procedures and other important considerations, such as hospital rehabilitation accommodation and the doctors’ register of interests. They all relate to the interests of patients.
I shall address particularly the issue of cosmetic procedures and I start by thanking the Minister and his Bill team for giving so much support, showing such interest and bringing this into being today. I know we all welcome it; it is much appreciated. I am glad to have taken part in the meetings and to have tabled an amendment in Committee relating to cosmetic regulation. The amendments before us today have been very much welcomed by medical associations, because we all know that lack of regulation has been a ballooning problem. For example, the Save Face organisation received more than 2,000 complaints of botched procedures in 2020 alone and the true number, as we know, is likely to be higher.
The other point to make is that this is a fast-moving industry and I am glad that these amendments will be able to keep pace with an ever-changing landscape. We have seen a significant rise in recent years in the number and type of non-surgical aesthetic procedures performed in the UK. Practitioners, both medically and non-medically trained, are performing procedures without even being able to evidence appropriate training and the required standards of oversight and supervision of procedures that can be described only as high- risk. When they go wrong—and we have all heard the stories of intense and lasting damage from untrained practitioners carrying out procedures in unlicensed premises—we all know that it will then fall to the NHS to pick up the pieces. This, today, is a meaningful step in protecting more people from rogue operators.
I close by thanking noble Lords for their contributions not only to this debate but to shaping the legislation. Once again, I thank the Minister and his team for all their efforts. I hope we will come to see a much safer set of non-surgical cosmetic procedures than we have at present.
Over the last 28 years, it has been my privilege to work with a fantastic team of GPs in the East End of London who are now responsible for 43,000 patients. I know what great GPs and doctors are like. If I am honest, however, I have also had to deal with a number of dodgy doctors, which is a very difficult matter to deal with. One doctor undertook female circumcision in his practice, unbeknown to the health authority for quite a period of time. He ended up marrying his practice manager and, some years later, he murdered her. Another practice, when I dug under the carpet, had bought a cheap fridge from B&Q and, over a period of three years, kept 10,000 injections at the wrong temperature and injected 10,000 patients with dead, illegal injections. Another doctor, as we learned when we took over his list, had countless ghost patients. As a result, I started to discover what ghost patients are. It took our team two years to sort out the realities of who were and were not real patients.
For the sake of GPs and patients, we need to protect them in the way the noble Baroness is suggesting. Doctors are flawed human beings like the rest of us, and we need to protect them from themselves and from us. It is really important that these things are taken seriously. This amendment puts its finger on a very important matter.
My Lords, this morning, I told my three daughters that they needed to be more assertive at school, but I have completely failed to intervene tonight. I will be very quick in paying tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, and my noble friend Lord Lansley, who is not here tonight, and in thanking the Government for the amendments on cosmetic interventions. I sponsored the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill in this House, which assisted with the regulation of non-surgical interventions for children. At the time, we said that this was only the start and that there was a lot more to do. We acknowledged that others had done a lot of spade work, and I pay tribute to all those who have done yet more spade work. I want to put on record my appreciation to the Government for listening and reacting.
I will be very brief because this is a slightly different subject. I shall speak to Amendment 181, which places a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that each hospital has sufficient accommodation for patients who are rehabilitating and no longer require a hospital bed but still have needs. Further, as part of this duty, the Secretary of State must ensure that any spare land owned by the NHS is considered for this use.
In Scandinavia, patient accommodation of this nature has been part of the state health system since the late 1980s. Having patients stay in these facilities, which are designed to cater for people still needing some medical care, has delivered considerable savings to the public health system. The savings from these facilities is significant. In the previous group, much of our discussion—as always—was about the cost of our health and care system to the taxpayer, and to those who need care. This amendment, as well as delivering better rehabilitation and care for someone recovering from being in hospital, also delivers a significant saving. As I pointed out in Committee, NHS trusts are currently spending money putting up patients in hotels, with rooms costing as much as £275 a night. One London hospital has spent over £1 million on hotel rooms in the last three years. The cost of someone staying in a hospital bed for longer than they need is even greater than that. This is something that I would very much like to take up further with the Government.
Over the last few years, I have been working with a chartered architect who has identified various sites where this could happen throughout England. One is not terribly far from here. This is a real opportunity and I hope the Government will take it to include this as part of the Bill.
My Lords, I start by thanking noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. In the end, this turned out to be an eclectic mix of amendments. Given that, I hope I can get the right balance between giving noble Lords comprehensive enough responses, while bearing in mind the more basic need of a dinner break for some noble Lords who have been in this debate today. I will be as brief and as comprehensive as I can be.
I turn first to Amendment 144B. We should be clear that the CQC is not intended to be an investigative body for an individual seeking redress. Other statutory bodies already exist to investigate individual cases and complaints, including the NHS complaints system. If complainants remain unsatisfied, they can raise their complaint with the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Where the risk is serious or life-threatening, the CQC can act on a single concern and take regulatory action. Similarly, complaints about adult social care services should be made first to providers. They can also be made to the local authority, if the local authority is commissioning the care. Thereafter, complaints can be made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. Providers must investigate all complaints thoroughly and take necessary action where failures have been identified. The CQC monitors health and social care providers’ complaints processes and can compel providers to provide a summary of complaints received and their responses. Failure to do so within 28 days is considered a breach of the regulation and could lead to prosecution of the provider.
On Amendment 147A, I hope to assure the noble Lord that work is already in place for a framework for assuring the quality of people working in social care. Registered managers are already assessed by the CQC, to confirm their fitness to be registered. Nurses are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and social workers by Social Work England. Any person delivering personal care must have a DBS check. If, in the future, it was decided that adult social care workers in England should be subject to statutory regulation, the power to do so already exists in Section 60 of the Health Act 1999.
I turn now to the amendments in my name. I start by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, for raising this issue with the House, and thank all those noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, who have raised concerns about the need for regulation of this ever-evolving industry. As I hope noble Lords will now acknowledge, the Government are committed to improving the safety of non-surgical cosmetic procedures by establishing a licensing system. This will support the introduction of consistent standards that individuals carrying out such cosmetic procedures will have to meet, as well as hygiene and safety standards for premises. The definitions in the amendment are intended to cover the broad range of cosmetic procedures which, if improperly performed, have the potential to cause serious injury and harm. The subsequent regulations will set out in detail the treatments to be covered by the licensing system, and the detailed conditions and training requirements individuals would have to meet. The purpose of this amendment is not to ban procedures or stifle innovation, but rather to ensure that consumers who choose to undergo a cosmetic procedure can be confident that the treatment they receive is safe and of a high standard. The Government will work with stakeholders, including noble Lords, to put in place a licensing regime that works for both consumers and providers, protecting those who choose to receive cosmetic procedures without placing unnecessary restrictions on legitimate businesses.
The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, asked me a number of questions, so I will try to answer them. I begin with radiofrequency. Given the broad range of skin-tightening procedures, proposed new subsection (2)(e) provides scope to encompass a variety of treatments which involve a wide range of application techniques, including radiofrequency and ultrasound devices. The aim of the licensing scheme is to protect the public from the risk of harm. To achieve this, the regulations will specify the standards of training required. The proposed new clause will also allow regulations to make provisions about the duration, renewal, variation, suspension or revocation of licences.
The range of non-surgical cosmetic procedures available to consumers is vast. Therefore, drawing up the regulations will require detailed consultation with a range of stakeholders. This will include a number of partners, such as the cosmetics industry and local authorities. We will try to do this as quickly as possible, while ensuring that the list is as comprehensive as possible. We will try to get that balance. For these reasons, I hope I can ask noble Lords to support these amendments and I ask the noble Baroness to consider not moving her amendment.
Let me now turn to Amendment 181. A number of initiatives are under way to support future discharge routes in a way that is sustainable and cost effective and provides the choice for patients to return to their communities. These will be pursued locally by NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts in ways that best fit their clinical requirements.
On the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, about surplus land, which she has raised previously with me personally, I appreciate the sentiment but we believe that it is for local organisations, not the Secretary of State, to decide. However, if the noble Baroness is open to a suggestion, perhaps we could facilitate a meeting with NHS England to see whether it would be interested in discussing her plans—especially since she has gone to a number of lengths, including with architects, in formulating her amendment.
On Amendment 184ZBB, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Cumberlege, for her constructive engagement. I hope she agrees that we now have a shared approach to increasing transparency around the interests of doctors and other healthcare professionals. We agree that information on healthcare professionals’ interests will be most accessible to patients if it is published by healthcare providers rather than by the relevant professional regulator, including the GMC; we are now taking that forward. My department will work across the devolved Administrations to implement a system for all healthcare professionals to declare their interests. We have set up a series of working groups, prioritising the implementation of a system for doctors to declare their interests before moving on to other healthcare professionals. We hope to have a system for doctors by July 2022.
The only area where I do not agree completely with my noble friend is the need for primary legislation to address this issue. I assure the House that existing legislation in relation to the GMC and the Care Quality Commission can be used to achieve the same effect as this amendment, which we therefore believe is not necessary. Doctors are already required to declare their competing and potentially competing interests. The GMC can take, and has taken, action against doctors who fail to meet these requirements, and serious or persistent breaches that pose a risk to patient safety or public trust can put a registrant’s registration at risk. My department is working with the CQC and equivalent organisations across the devolved Administrations to ensure that effective monitoring of the system is in place.
My noble friend Lady Cumberlege raised the important issue of appraisal. As part of their annual appraisal, doctors are required by the GMC to submit a probity statement, which requires them to confirm that they have declared and managed any conflicts of interest appropriately. We are looking to take forward work in this area and we will work with stakeholders to make sure that this is clearer. Work is moving forward to ensure that doctors are open and honest about their competing and potentially competing interests, to avoid some of the problems that the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, pointed out. My officials would be delighted to meet my noble friend Lady Cumberlege and other Peers in early summer to provide an update on the progress of implementation.
With all that, I hope I have given noble Lords sufficient reassurance that they feel able to withdraw or not press their amendments and I commend the amendments in my name.
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister, who summarised a variety of amendments, none of which seemed to have much connection at all to each other. I should have declared my interest as a member of the GMC board but, of course, under the rules of the House, I am not allowed to comment on anything to do with the GMC.
On my Amendment 144B, all I would say is that the Minister is absolutely right that the CQC is not there to investigate complaints. The fact is that, if you are a relative of a resident and you are concerned about quality so you complain, you are then threatened that you will not be able to visit if you carry on doing it. You cannot go to the CQC, effectively, the ombudsman is far too remote and long-distance, and the provider does not have a satisfactory complaints system. That is the problem. We still have to find a solution. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 144B withdrawn.
Consideration on Report adjourned until not before 8.49 pm.