Clause 22 - Health and well-being strategies in Wales

NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 29th November 2001.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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

The clause places a duty on the newly formed local health boards in Wales, and on each local authority in Wales jointly to formulate and implement a health and well-being strategy for the local authority area. The clause reinforces the Assembly's commitment to joint working between the NHS and local government. In doing so, it seeks to embrace the wider stakeholder group, including the independent and voluntary sectors and others in setting the strategic agenda for health and well-being in their local areas.

The model for the health and well-being strategies emerged from the NHS plan in Wales. It is an inclusive model, which has been developed in partnership with stakeholders. Indeed, a task and finish group was created, comprising representatives of the NHS, local government, professional bodies and others, including the voluntary and independent sectors. These proposals have been brought forward as a consequence of that consultation. There has also been formal public consultation through the document ''Structural Change in the NHS in Wales'', which was published in July.

The emphasis on partnership working also derives from the joint working provisions of the Health Act 1999. The partnership provisions in sections 26 to 32 of that Act were intended to strengthen partnership working within the national health service and between the NHS and local government. Those provisions encouraged collaboration between the two statutory bodies, but did not require it. Nor did they require local authorities or NHS bodies to consult or otherwise involve external partners, such as the private and voluntary sector, in strategic or operational planning of services. Those are increasingly important elements of the overall health, well-being and care provisions in each local area. The clause is intended to redress the balance in Wales.

The development and implementation of the health and well-being strategies will ensure that all the relevant local partners are included in work on a strategic approach to the development and provision of the whole spectrum of services, from community care and primary health care to the acute sector and long-term domiciliary or residential care. Those strategies will reflect the need to tackle the underlying

factors that lead to poor health, such as poor housing, poor education and unemployment. In so doing, they will contribute to the improvement of health services, to increased well-being and prosperity, and to a reduction in health inequalities.

The health and well-being strategy will complement the community strategies that local authorities are required to prepare under section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000. I commend the measure to the Committee.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

I fully understand that the overall aim of the clause is to draw up strategies, in conjunction with local authorities and others, to enhance and improve the health of the community. Will the Minister explain what he envisages? Will there be overall strategies, or targets and aims to be reached in a specified time scale? If the latter approach has any role in the strategies, how will success be tested? How would failure to achieve the aims of the strategy be dealt with?

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

It is important to recognise that the Assembly will set its overall priorities among its targets for improving health service delivery in Wales. It will establish measures for the achievement of targets and to assess the results. The Assembly will make regulations that will determine the targets and how they will be measured. As I said earlier, provision is made for local health boards to produce reports and to be open and accountable for all that they do. That will be measured not only against the Assembly's aims for the health service in Wales but against the hopes and aspirations of the local community, as represented on the local health boards.

Photo of Richard Taylor Richard Taylor Independent, Wyre Forest

I strongly commend the power under clause 22(6)(a) for imposing a duty to consult, among others, community health councils, voluntary bodies and local businesses in Wales.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 22 ordered to stand part of the Bill.