Clause 7 - Exercise of functions relating to provision of services

Part of Health and Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 14th September 2021.

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Photo of Karin Smyth Karin Smyth Labour, Bristol South 2:00 pm, 14th September 2021

Further to those points about clarity around the exercising of powers, the move to give NHS England that power is entirely sensible. The medical, dental, ophthalmic and pharmaceutical services have had a lower profile in our constituencies over the last few years, as I think we would all agree. It is important to give them the profile they need to be integrated into the system, because they have certainly not been so far.

The evolution of delegating that power to CCGs came late in the day, and remains muddled around the commissioning of primary care services. Therefore, while allowing the delegation of function is entirely sensible, it is not clear, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston has said, when or how that delegation will be sought. I think the Minister was referring to the involvement of the Secretary of State, but I am not sure in what circumstances the Secretary of State would be doing that, and why this would not be when NHS England, or NHS England regions, decides that the ICB is of a maturity to accept commissioning responsibilities.

One assumes that NHS England believes that at the moment some of those putative organisations are mature enough already; will some of them start doing that on day one, six months in or a year in? How will we know and how will they be resourced to do it? Is it a transfer of power? How NHS England and the local ICB, without representatives of medical, dental, ophthalmic and pharmaceutical bodies, will be taking that on board is all very opaque.