§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. David Lammy)
I have announced today that Community Health Councils (CHCs) will be abolished on 1 September 2003. Abolition was announced in the NHS Plan and relevant legislation is in the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002.
CHC staff have been sent details of the support arrangements for them in the run up to abolition and includes help and advice for them in finding alternative employment. These arrangements have been agreed with the trade unions. I have personally written to all staff and members of CHC acknowledging the service they have provided over the years.
We are modernising the way patients and public are involved in the delivery and design of NHS services. Between now and September the functions that CHCs currently carry out will move across to one of the bodies that will replace them. The new arrangements have a number of key components that radically transform patient and public involvement. Already the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health has been established and we are working with it to establish patients' forums for every NHS trust and primary care trust in England. Since the 1 January Overview and Scrutiny Committees across England have had the power to scrutinise health and there has been a new duty on the NHS to involve and consult the public. Patient advice and liaison services are supporting patients, their families and carers in most trusts in England.
The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health will make available more information about when and how patients' forums will be established later today.
Copies of the information that has been sent to CHC staff and members is available at www.doh.gov.uk/involvingpatients.