Home > General Politics > Healthwatch: the next big utterly pointless cock-up?

Healthwatch: the next big utterly pointless cock-up?

So the Police and Crime Commissioners were a little bit of a damp squib then.   Here, as the TCF public service, is what the law says they have to do now.  No, I’m no clearer either.

Anyway, moving swiftly on……Next up in the litany of Tory cock-ups and insults to our intelligence is Healthwatch.

Healthwatch, I’m sure you remember, are the local bodies which in April 2013 will replace Labour’s Local Involvement Networks (LINks).  See the Health and Social Care Act here, though that’s a bit confusing, because it refers you to an amends Labour’s Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, which is here.

Got that?  Oh, they’re supposed to provide guidance on and oversee health services and stuff in council areas, ok?

Except that it’s not very clear who “they” they actually are.  The 2012 Act says that councils have to make the arrangement for a Healthwatch to be set up in their area, and that:

The arrangements must be made with a body corporate which—

(a) is a social enterprise, and

(b) satisfies such criteria as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State

The problem with that is that there is no definition in law of what a social enterprise actually is, so the Act helpfully clarifies that this will be clarified later on by regulation:

For the purposes of this section, a body is a social enterprise if—

(a) a person might reasonably consider that it acts for the benefit of the community in England, and

(b) it satisfies such criteria as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State.

“Ah brilliant”, I hear you say. “Nothing like a bit of clarification. So we do now know what kind of organisation can run Healthwatch, then, because the Secretary of State has prescribed by regulation?”

Erm, no, not quite.  The matter went out for detailed consultation in the Spring, straight after the 2012 was passed, and lots of people gave their views on what should or shouldn’t constitute a social enterprise for the purposes of being eligible to run a local Healthwatch or ten.

But then the matter appears to have been to, well, forgotten.  When pressed on the matter, Tory Health Spokesman Earl Howe, said on 24th October:

We plan to publish by the end of this year statutory instruments (SIs) dealing  with commissioning requirements for the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), Standing Rules for the Board and CCGs, local  authority public health functions, local Healthwatch, and care trusts and partnership working.

So regulations on who councils can make arrangements with to provide Healthwatch will be provided by government just three months before these arrangements need, by law, to come into place. Great.  Needless to say, councils don’t work like that, and most have already issued tender documentation, setting out what kind of organisations they think might be eligible, though in my area (Lancashire), the council has decided not to issue a tender, but to set up its own organisation*.

Hence we have a situation where, because of the failure to pass secondary legislation in good time, councils may end with legal cases against them from firms that feel unfairly excluded from the tender process (depending on what the regulations finally say) or, in cases where ‘social enterprises’ amay be set up as mere passporting fronts to private firms, from campaign groups arguing that the arrangements do not meet the criterion already set out in the Act, namely that “a person might reasonably consider that it [the social enterprise] acts for the benefit of the community in England.

Marvellous.  And all this to set up organisations with substantially the same remit as the ones that are being abolished.

You thought the PCC elections were a pointless cock-up? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

* Declaration of interest: I’ve put my name in the hat to become Chair of this new company, on the basis that, while I don’t agree with the need for this new set-up, if it’s going to come in from April it needs to be run competently, and running things competently and better is what I do.

About these ads
Categories: General Politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 121 other followers

%d bloggers like this: