HC Deb 10 December 1985 vol 88 cc756-7
11. Mr. Tim Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the responsibilities of the chairmen of the regional health authorities, the National Health Service management board and himself, respectively, for the running of the National Health Service.

The Minister for Health (Mr. Barney Hayhoe)

The powers and duties of the Secretary of State in relation to health authorities, and the functions of regional authorities, are set out in the National Health Service Act 1977, as amended by the Health Services Act 1980. The regional authorities are accountable to the Secretary of State.

The National Health Service management board has been set up by the Secretary of State to give leadership on his behalf to health authorities, so as to secure the better provision of hospital and community services to patients.

Mr. Smith

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that this rather complex system at the top of the NHS will be sufficient to encourage effective and decentralised line management at unit level?

Mr. Hayhoe

We are certainly seeking to get the relationships and strategies that will enable downward delegation to take place, as well as upward accountability. The Griffiths reforms and their successful implementation are essential to that end.

Mr. Dobson

Can the Minister confirm that when a private cleaning company falls down on the job of cleaning a hospital, the whole NHS hierarchy swings into operation? Is it not true that the district health authority is not allowed to sack that firm? The authority must make representations to the regional health authority, which then takes up the matter with the private cleaning company. If that does not work, the Minister gets in touch with the directors of that cleaning company's holding company, rather than simply allowing the contract to be terminated?

Mr. Hayhoe

If anyone falls down on his job within the NHS, it is essential that management takes appropriate steps to remedy the deficiency.