Clause 44

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Sandra Gidley Sandra Gidley Shadow Minister, Health 2:00 pm, 17th January 2008

Amendment No. 196 was tabled by the Liberal Democrats and amendment No. 262 by the Conservatives. They have more or less the same aim. The clause provides for the review and investigation of adult social services across the board, whereas the powers on health care are restricted to the NHS. In its submission to us, the Healthcare Commission pointed out that

“there is no evidence that the risk of service failure that would warrant investigation is higher or lower in NHS or private care”

It also said:

“In our experience, wholly private services may require review just as publicly funded ones may (for example, cosmetic surgery). In many services provided by the independent sector it is not possible to separate out elements of performance which relate to publicly funded patients and those elements which relate to those privately funded (for example, many independent mental health hospitals have both publicly funded and privately funded patients).”

I was also prompted to table the amendment because of a local case. Someone went into the local BUPA hospital and, sadly, died. It was clear from the evidence that there was insufficient medical cover and that certain complaints were not taken seriously at the time. If they had been investigated, that gentleman might be alive today. I struggle to see how that case would be covered, because the health care was privately purchased. Clearly, that case raises questions about the general provision of care in that hospital.

In the past—not so much today, but when I was first elected in 2000—local private sector hospitals undertook a great deal of work on behalf of the NHS. It would seem invidious to inspect a hospital and reach a conclusion on it solely on the basis of its NHS provision. I think that most members of the public undergoing invasive surgery would automatically assume that private sector hospitals are subject to an  appropriate inspection regime, and my amendment is an attempt to capture all health and adult social care providers and to ensure that nothing falls through the gap.