Clause 53 - Other reviews and investigations

Health and Social Care(Community Health and Standards) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 10th June 2003.

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Amendments made: No. 295, in

clause 53, page 18, line 38, leave out

'other than an NHS foundation trust'.

No. 296, in

clause 53, page 18, line 42, leave out

'other than an NHS foundation trust'.—[Mr. Lammy.]

Photo of Patsy Calton Patsy Calton Liberal Democrat, Cheadle

I beg to move amendment No. 401, in

clause 53, page 19, line 2, leave out from 'If' to 'conduct' and insert 'requested, the CHAI may'.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths Labour, Bridgend

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment No. 528, in

clause 53, page 19, line 17, leave out 'if regulations so provide'.

Photo of Patsy Calton Patsy Calton Liberal Democrat, Cheadle

The amendment is quite simple. It is intended to probe whether only the Secretary of State may request an investigation by CHAI. We would be happy to hear from the Under-Secretary whether the only circumstances in which another review or investigation could take place is if the Secretary of State so requested. I shall leave the hon. Member for West Chelmsford to speak to amendment No. 528, which we support.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

Amendment No. 528 is a probing amendment. As hon. Members will be aware from studying the Bill, the clause deals with the reviews and investigations that CHAI can carry out. If my understanding of subsection (7) is correct, once an investigation or review has been carried out and CHAI has made the decision and given its view:

''An NHS body must, if regulations so provide, publish a statement as to the action it proposes to take as a result of any review or investigation conducted''.

That seems eminently reasonable and a sensible way forward, but I should like to know what is meant by ''if regulations so provide''. Can the Under-Secretary share more of his thinking on how he expects subsection (7) to work? As, presumably, the opposite could be the case in certain circumstances, can he also explain in what circumstances regulations would not ''so provide''?

While we are on the subject of regulations, I make a plea to Ministers yet again—I think that it is for the third time. We will be finishing our Committee a week on Thursday and we will come next week to sections of the Bill that include a lot of regulatory powers. Although Ministers could not, for perfectly valid reasons, provide us with draft regulations, I understand that they gave a commitment on the first day—and again when I raised the matter last time—to seek to provide briefings to give us a greater understanding of what the regulations may seek to do. That would help us to conduct our proceedings in a more transparent way. We have, as of now, received nothing. I hope that we will receive what Ministers

promised, or, if not, that they will have the courtesy to tell us that we are not going to receive that information, and do so early enough for us to make preparations for that eventuality.

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) 3:45 pm, 10th June 2003

The intention behind amendment No. 401 is rather unclear, although it has been clarified a little today. In practice, I am sure that CHAI will welcome information from patients, health care staff, the public generally or other public bodies if it considers that a review or investigation should take place in a particular area or of a particular NHS body. However, statutory provision is not needed for that.

It is important that the Secretary of State, in his responsibilities for the NHS, should be able to require CHAI to carry out a particular review or investigation if necessary. The conception of CHAI lay in the Government's considerations of the recommendations in Sir Ian Kennedy's Bristol inquiry report. Should similar events occur in the NHS—the Government are always taking action in a range of ways to try to avoid such an eventuality—it must be right for the Secretary of State to be able to require CHAI to investigate. After all, he has clear statutory duties in relation to the NHS, as I have said today. In meeting those duties, it may be necessary to undertake a review or investigation. It would be inefficient to duplicate resources when CHAI is the inspectorate set up to do that job. For that very important reason, it is right that the Secretary of State can request such a review.

It is equally clear that any request for CHAI to undertake specific reviews or investigations would be made by my right hon. Friend not just for its own sake, but only so that issues of vital interest to the public and Parliament receive appropriate consideration by CHAI if they are being neglected.

Amendment No. 401 would remove the Secretary of State's ability to require CHAI to undertake a review and consequently might be unable to carry out a major investigation in the public interest. Cases such as Shipman, Beverley Allitt and Climbié illustrate why that would not be satisfactory.

Amendment No. 528 would remove the regulation-making power to require NHS bodies to publish a statement of the action they propose to take in response to CHAI reviews or investigations. Our intention is that the requirement will be made. The regulation-making power already allows some flexibility in setting out details of what might be published and when, and allows some differentiation between the expectation of different types of NHS body. To that extent the amendment is unnecessary. Regulations enable flexibility to provide more detail of how and when a statement of action to be taken will be published and, to that extent, the regulations follow in the normal way.

Photo of Patsy Calton Patsy Calton Liberal Democrat, Cheadle

The Under-Secretary will understand that we are trying to establish how independent CHAI is. I understood that, in certain circumstances, it should be possible to put a requirement on CHAI, but I should be surprised if it refused to investigate in circumstances such as the Shipman case and so on.

I am pleased that the Under-Secretary made it clear that patients and others can request an investigation

and that seems sound. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made:

No. 440, in

clause 53, page 19, line 9, leave out

'subject to this Part, conduct'

and insert 'carry out'.

No. 297, in

clause 53, page 19, line 12, leave out

'other than an NHS foundation trust'.

No. 441, in

clause 53, page 19, line 20, leave out subsection (8).

No. 30, in

clause 53, page 19, line 22, leave out subsection (9).—[Mr. Lammy.]

Clause 53, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.