Yesterday, the Healthwatch network brought the voice of consumers to the heart of Westminster when Parliament debated the Draft Legislative Reform Order on Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Ahead of yesterday’s vote, we had raised concerns all the way up to the Secretary of State for Health about the potential of this reform to prevent people from having a say about major changes to the health services in their area.
This led to a very strong debate in the Chamber where the concerns from both local Healthwatch and Healthwatch England were raised by a number of Members from across the House. These included:
- Concerns about the failure of joint committees to engage the public and respect local accountability mechanisms
- The impact of voting arrangements made by joint committees on decision regarding local services
- What assurance will there be to ensure CCGs are fulfilling their statutory requirements to engage the public.
Responding, Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support, acknowledged the concerns raised by Healthwatch and assured members there will be guidance and support given to CCGs to ensure they meet their statutory obligations for engaging the public: “I repeat that we take on board the concerns of Healthwatch England. We intend to work with that body to ensure maximum accountability for the decisions taken as part of these joint committees”.
While the motion was carried, we were encouraged by the strong support across the House to ensure the voice of the public is reflected in decisions about local health and social care services.