HC Deb 29 June 1981 vol 7 cc289-90W
Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if the meeting of the North-West Thames regional health authority at which it decides upon the appointments to be made for membership of the Brent district health authority will be open to the public;

(2) what advice he has tendered to regional health authorities on the criteria to be adopted for the selection of members of district health authorities;

(3) which voluntary and statutory organisations are being consulted with regard to nominations for members of the Brent district health authority;.

(4) what arrangements have been made for public participation in and subsequent scrutiny of the process of nomination and appointment to district health authorities.

Dr. Vaughan

General guidance has been given to regional health authorities and the local authorities responsible for these appointments in the recent circular issued by the Department "The Membership of District Health Authorities"(HC(81)6/LAC(81)3), a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Under schedule 5 to the National Health Service Act 1977—amended respecting district health authorities by the Health Services Act 1980—the appointing authorities are required to consult bodies representative of the main health professions and such other bodies, including any federation of workers organisations, as appear to them to be concerned before making appointments. Any individual or body not covered by these formal consultations is free to submit recommendations. No central guidance is laid down and details of the bodies consulted by the North West Thames regional health authority are not held centrally. The hon. Member may wish to seek this information from the regional health authority.

It is cusomary for the names, addresses and summary curricula vitae of newly appointed members to be announced by regional health authorities. Most, I expect, will issue a press release at the appropriate time; and similar details feature in handbooks produced locally.

It is a matter for the health authority concerned to decide when or whether to close its meetings to the press and general public. In general, public bodies should not involve the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 lightly. None the less, in my experience, recommendations sent to the appointing authorities are usually submitted on a confidential basis. By their nature, they are concerned with the personal and private details of people who generously offer their services voluntarily and in an unpaid capacity. Accordingly, I see no objection to meetings at which these appointments are discussed, and selections made, being held in closed session.