New Clause 8

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 24th January 2008.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health) 3:30 pm, 24th January 2008

I put it on the record that we do not accept the Minister’s analysis of the approach advocated by our NHS Autonomy and Accountability Bill but there may be a future opportunity to consider it in detail. I recognise that the soundbite used in relation to it has been repeated.

I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Luton, North, who did not necessarily support the new clause, for his consistent approach to patient involvement and the level of advocacy that needs to be established. He and I have shared a view on that issue over at least eight years since we looked very closely at what was happening when the community health councils were abolished, as it was one of their key roles. The independence and trust that they enjoyed led to advocacy that worked, which was especially helpful to those in a very vulnerable situation. Our HealthWatch proposal, which is contained in the new clauses, is intended to try to replicate that aspect of the CHCs.

I do not want to press the hon. Gentleman to make a decision and I recognise that the Government are taking a view on these matters. The point is well heard as well as well made and the best I can do is hope that if we continue to take opportunities to press these ideas, the Government will one day realise that they are not intended to be something that they should resist, but something that they should embrace. That would be one of the best ways of demonstrating that there is a unity in many of our objectives for making sure that the NHS is not only robust and well designed but that its priority is to serve patients from the very first to the very last and to improve their lives through better health.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.