§ Mr. Anthony Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will report further on his intention to introduce new management arrangements for the special hospitals service, as outlined in the ministerial statement of 4 May 1988.
§ Mr. Freeman
With the agreement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the new Special Hospitals Service Authority came into being on 1 July 1989. Initially, the authority will work with the Department, and the Home Department, in formulating national policies for the service; in finalising the new arrangements; and in preparing the way for senior managerial appointments and for the handover of the functions currently discharged by the Department and the three existing local hospital boards. Further measures will be taken in due course to enable the authority to assume full responsibility for the service, from 1 October 1989. At that stage the Department will relinquish all its operational management responsibilities and the local boards will cease to exist, to be replaced as soon as possible by new local arrangements.
As well as its administrative responsibilities, a primary task of the authority will be to determine policies and priorities within the strategic framework provided by the Government's stated objectives for the further development of the service. These include the overriding need to continue to ensure the safety of the public; to continue to improve standards of treatment and care; and to forge closer and more effective links between the special hospitals and the services to which they relate—the hospital and community psychiatric services and the prison medical service. It was with the achievement of those objectives in mind that my right hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department agreed on the need to strengthen the management of the service, both in terms of the establishment of a central special health authority, and the introduction of general management.
The new arrangements will provide an improved environment in which roles and relationships, and lines of accountability, are more clearly defined and in which better-informed decisions can be taken on key issues—including the quality of the lives of patients, and the use of resources.
I am pleased to announce that Dr. David Edmond, the present chairman of the Rampton hospital board, has 49W accepted an invitation to serve as chairman of the new authority. He comes to the job with a proven track record both in the service itself, and in industry, and his knowledge, experience and deep commitment to the service will stand him in good stead in taking on this demanding appointment. The membership of the authority will be announced shortly.