HC Deb 17 January 1995 vol 252 cc565-6
1. Mr. Milburn

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the health appointments systems.

The Minister for Health (Mr. Gerald Malone)

The Government's aim is to ensure that the national health service continues to benefit from the appointment of the best possible people with a wide range of skills to serve as chairmen and non-executive directors of health authorities and trusts.

Mr. Milburn

Is the Minister aware that the system for appointing people to serve on health authorities and trusts is now widely discredited? Will he agree with the following three simple steps to open up the health appointment system? First, will he publish a full list of those nominated; secondly, will he make clear the selection criteria that Ministers use; and, thirdly, will he itemise, as for magistrates, the party political affiliations of those chosen to serve? Or does the Minister continue to believe that jobs for the boys and jobs for the girls are more important than public accountability in the national health service?

Mr. Malone

The system has certainly been extremely unfairly impugned by the hon. Gentleman and members of his party. The system is open and accountable. Measures are being put in hand to advertise the non-executive posts more widely to attract a wider range of people, with all the business skills and talents and other necessary skills in the community. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to improve matters, perhaps he will submit to the Nolan committee the disgraceful letter from Labour's national executive committee that instructs members of the Labour party who serve in non-executive capacities to report back to Walworth road. That is where the problem lies.

Mr. Devlin

Will my hon. Friend congratulate some of the well-known Labour supporters in the north of England, such as Brian Hanson, who serve on national health service trusts and do quite a good job and who disagree with the contentions of the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) on the health service but agree with the British Medical Association, which says that it is not the time for further major organisational upheaval?

Mr. Malone

Yes, I endorse my hon. Friend's comments. In fact, I would go further and say that the vast majority of all those, from whichever party, who serve in non-executive capacities do a first-class job. They are taking the health service forward and deserve the greatest congratulation on the voluntary service that they provide.

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