Clause 15

Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 15th January 2008.

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Applications by registered persons

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health)

I beg to move amendment No. 12, in clause 15, page 7, line 6, at end insert—

‘(1A) Except in case A or B, a person taking action under subsection (1) is entitled to financial compensation.

(1B) the Secretary of State shall by regulations establish the amount of compensation to be granted under subsection (1A).’.

We are now dealing with applications by registered persons. The amendment would enable the registered person to claim back part of the registration fee if he or she were not remaining registered for the duration of the registration period. As drafted, the registered person forfeits any such money if he is advised to cancel his registration. If that is the aim of the Bill, it seems a little unfair. It could be, perhaps at the outside edge, a perverse incentive and if we, as legislators, are to make sure that we keep our eye always on the principle of fairness, it could be something of an asymmetric approach. I hope that the Minister will either give me a satisfactory reassurance or be willing to reconsider the possibility of being able to claim back at least part of the registration fee, when the registered person does not remain registered for the duration of the registered period.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (South West), The Minister of State, Department of Health

I agree that it is important that providers are treated fairly in the process. My understanding of the effect of the proposal is that when the Care Quality Commission takes normal action, registered persons have the right to make representations to the commission and if they are not satisfied they have an independent right of appeal to a tribunal. In that case, the action would not take effect until after an appeal was heard, so there should be no material effect on the person or the provider, and therefore no need for compensation.

If the CQC takes urgent action, which we discussed earlier, the action would bite straight away to protect patients and service users. In those cases, if the commission had acted improperly there may be a case for compensation, as businesses could have been affected. However, the first priorities of the commission are its duties to patient and service safety and we expect it to carry out those responsibilities extremely carefully.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health)

That was relatively reassuring. We will study the issue of fairness as we progress through the Bill. On the basis that anything that will help to improve the sense of equilibrium and fairness is welcomed by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.