Preparation of codes

Part of Human Tissue Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 3rd February 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health 3:15 pm, 3rd February 2004

I want to ask one or two questions for the record. There is obviously a substantial relationship between the codes of practice and the activity of the NHS. Ministers will understand that point, not least because the explanatory notes set out some of the public sector financial and manpower consequences that flow from the Bill. The explanatory notes give a figure of about £2.7 million for resources and £300,000 for a central training budget. I am sure that many in the NHS are concerned to ensure that the resources for implementation and training will reflect

requirements not only once the Bill is enacted. There are one-off costs even now that are associated with implementing the interim statement and introducing consent forms. It would be useful if the Minister could say something about how the Human Tissue Authority, in framing codes of practice, will reflect its understanding of the resource implications of the codes' requirements.

Will the Minister state that the Department understands that implementation and training need to be properly resourced? There is, in addition, the issue of the extent to which the NHS complies. I would be the last to add to the burden of inspection and control, and the Bill is clearly designed to place a set of obligations directly on the trusts and on those who receive consent and undertake regulated activities.

There are many variables, such as the extent to which existing consent forms have been adopted in the NHS; that to which those who work with consent forms secure the appropriate consent at the appropriate time; and that to which, in line with the interim statement, bereavement counsellors are appointed in accident and emergency units. There will be concern in the NHS if its procedures are not in accordance with the Bill at the point at which the Bill comes into force. In theory, criminal penalties or severe consequences would flow from a failure to take proper procedures into account. Equally, if patients and their families feel that obligations are set out in the Bill but are not being complied with in practice in the NHS, they will suspect that some of our objectives have been undermined.

Many of our concerns are to do with the relationship between the codes of practice and NHS management activity. It is unfair for us to legislate—to impose codes of practice—and for the authority to promulgate codes based on the gold standard, if everybody in the NHS is then to discover that they have no resources, time or bereavement counsellors; they have not been given the consent forms in the appropriate manner; they have not had any opportunity to train, and so on. We cannot allow the strain of trying to reconcile such matters to fall wholly on a junior hospital doctor or NHS clinician who is trying to manage such things in the midst of addressing a range of other priorities.

I hope that the Minister can say something about the mechanisms. We have not previously discussed the matter, but we should do so, possibly on Third Reading. When we legislate, we must be clear about the processes by which activities will be managed, so that they will be acceptable in practice to the staff who have to live with them.