§ Mr. Tracey
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is her response to the proposals made by the South West Thames regional health authority for improved accountability arrangements for the London Ambulance Service; and if she will make the proposals public.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Following publication of the independent Inquiry into the operation of the computer aided dispatch system of the London ambulance service (LAS), I asked the South West Thames regional health authority chairman, Professor Marian Hicks, urgently to draw up proposals to strengthen lines of management accountability for the LAS. I have decided to accept the proposals she has put to me.
Under the new arrangements, the LAS board will be replaced by direct managerial accountability to the regional health authority. The LAS chief executive will be directly answerable to the regional health authority for all aspects of the performance and management of the LAS. Through the existing lines of national health service accountability the regional health authority will report to me. I shall expect to be kept in close touch with developments and have asked the authority to publish a report in the autumn on progress in implementing the recommendations of the independent inquiry into the LAS.
A special sub-committee of the regional health authority is to be established to assist in the oversight of 240W LAS performance. The sub-committee will have available to it the expertise of a small group of external specialists who will be appointed to advise the LAS on matters such as information technology. These advisers will have direct access to the regional chairman in the event of their having any concerns they believe are not being addressed by the line management system.
The LAS will also be open to greater public scrutiny. Its performance will be regularly considered in the public meetings of the regional health authority and it will publish an annual report. Regular performance reports will also be made available to Members, community health councils and other interested public bodies.
I am satisfied that these arrangements will provide an effective framework for accounting to the public for the performance of the LAS. Details of the arrangements are being placed today in the Library.