Independent Complaints Advocacy Service

House of Lords written question – answered on 17th July 2003.

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Photo of Baroness Nicol Baroness Nicol Labour

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements will be made for the provision of independent complaints advocacy services in September 2003.

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

Section 12 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 places a legal duty on the Secretary of State to make arrangements to provide independent advocacy services to assist individuals making complaints against the National Health Service. We intend to commence this section on 1 September 2003.

Our intention is to deliver arrangements for a national independent complaints advocacy service (ICAS). These intentions were set out in Written Answers given to the honourable Member for Eltham on 19 March 2003 (Official Report, cols. 849W–851W). The new service will be provided by four contractors who will deliver ICAS across England from 1 September 2003 on a one-year contract. These contractors are The Carers Federation Ltd, POhWER, South East Advocacy Projects and the Citizens Advice.

Delivering ICAS through these contracts will allow primary care trust patients' forums, who will in due course have delegated power to commission or provide ICAS under the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002, time to establish their networks and capacity.

Learning from the experience of community health councils and ICAS pilot projects, this will be a completely new service that will provide consistent support to patients with complaints about the NHS across England. ICAS will be provided to standards piloted across the country. The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) will, as indicated in its functions in the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002, monitor ICAS services against the standards.

We have worked with the CPPIH to set in place arrangements for it to act as the department's agent to manage these interim contracts on our behalf. We intend shortly to lay amendments to the CPPIH regulations to reflect this additional function.

The new ICAS providers will begin recruiting staff and preparing publicity for patients and others during July and August for the commencement of the service on 1 September 2003. We will be notifying our partners in the NHS about the new arrangements so that they can offer the contractors full co-operation before and during the contracts and help to direct patients to the new service.

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