HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 c299W
Mrs. Lait

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Answer of 21 January 2004,Official Report, columns 1362–63W, what the resource implications are to (a) local government and (b) the NHS of the requirement for national services within the NHS to consult Overview and Scrutiny committees when they wish to change a national service; and whether a regulatory analysis of the system has been published. [155078]

Ms Rosie Winterton

It is not possible to assess the resource implications for local government or national health service organisations in relation to the requirement for overview and scrutiny committees to be consulted on changes to national NHS services, since each circumstance will lead to a different set of arrangements. It is right that substantial changes are appropriately consulted upon and that both local government and the NHS treat that consultation as a priority for local people affected by any proposed change. Local government and the NHS locally should set aside funding to ensure that such changes do receive rigorous consultation to ensure local people's interests are taken into consideration.

To date, there has not been any regulatory analysis of the work of overview and scrutiny committees in relation to health services. The Department is making a one-off payment to the Centre for Public Scrutiny to undertake a programme of work to support and enable health scrutiny by local government. Part of the three-year programme will be to put in place an evaluation of health scrutiny, including health service consultations, and to assess the outcomes for local people resulting from the input of overview and scrutiny committees.