Clause 26

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (South West), The Minister of State, Department of Health 10:00 am, 17th January 2008

I imagine that we shall shortly come to a more general discussion of the powers, so I shall not dwell on that subject now but speak instead directly to the clause, which gives the Care Quality Commission  power to apply to a justice of the peace for an order urgently to cancel the registration of a service provider or manager. It sets out the tests that must be met, and requires the commission to notify a number of bodies when it applies for such an order. We all recognise that there may be exceptional occasions when such action may be necessary. The condition for taking such a drastic course of action would be that there was serious risk to a person’s life, health or well-being.

It is important to deal with concerns about notifying the relevant bodies quickly when such an application is made, because, as the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth has pointed out, arrangements will need to be made to look after any patients or clients who may be affected. That is why the provisions require the commission to notify, where appropriate, the relevant local authority, primary care trust or strategic health authority monitor. I do not want to engage in a debate about the powers now, because we shall come on to that in a moment, but I remind Members of the evidence given to the Committee by Dame Denise Platt. She recognised, as we all do, that some of the new powers in the Bill may not, as the hon. Member for Eddisbury said, be appropriate for acute or accident and emergency wards. However, CSCI welcomes the new and broader range of powers because at present it is faced with the stark choice of nothing or closure.

These are permissive powers, but that does not mean that the Care Quality Commission will use them. As Anna Walker indicated, it may not need to use them, although they may be useful as a deterrent and she would not want not to have them. Dame Denise appealed to us not to change the powers or weaken them in any way, because they would be useful in the social care context, and that was what was important to her.