Schedule 4 - Local health boards

NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 29th November 2001.

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Question proposed, That this schedule be the Fourth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Don Touhig Don Touhig Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Welsh Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

Schedule 4 on page 60 inserts new schedule 5B into the National Health Service Act 1977. It sets out provisions for local health boards as regards orders, status, membership and related matters. Under paragraph 5 on page 61, the Assembly will appoint the chairman and, if appropriate, the vice-chairman. Paragraph 13 on page 64 enables the local health boards to do whatever they consider necessary to exercise their functions. Paragraph 17 on page 64 enables the Assembly to make regulations that allow local health boards to produce reports, audit and publish accounts and publish other documents as required.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

The Minister mentioned earlier that he expected the health boards to act as shadow health boards before 1 April 2003. Where are the statutory provisions to allow for that?

Photo of Don Touhig Don Touhig Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Welsh Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I believe that they are in the existing legislation. When the Bill is enacted, the Assembly will have powers under existing legislation to bring the health boards into existence as shadow bodies.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

Perhaps the Minister can help me because, as an English Member of Parliament, I am not that familiar with the issue. There are no powers in the Bill to allow health boards in Wales to act as shadow bodies, but how can there already be legislation to allow them to do so if there are no health boards in Wales at present?

Photo of Don Touhig Don Touhig Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Welsh Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I believe that the legislation is already on the statue book and gives the Assembly devolved powers to do that. I am getting advice on the issue, which I shall share with the Committee. Local health groups—I am sorry, but I cannot read the writing. In any case, local health groups already exist as sub-committees of the five local health authorities. We shall enhance the functions of those groups so that they can act as shadow bodies.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 4 agreed to.