Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 560-569)



  560. On this occasion you did not get the opportunity to give that advice in advance?
  (Yvette Cooper) Not that I am aware of.

  561. Are you taking steps to ensure that you are included for matters in the future?
  (Yvette Cooper) That is one of the aims of the cost-cutting review on health and equality, to make sure we have structures in place at a national and a local level that increasingly where these health issues are raised in other departments that we have the proper mechanisms in place to make sure everyone is consulted in the right way. That is certainly our intention.

  562. Is it possible to have a note on how that will operate in the future?
  (Yvette Cooper) It is hard for us to do that just yet because the work is still in progress but as soon as we are able to we will.


  563. I do not like little phrases like that, Minister.
  (Yvette Cooper) There is deadline for the cost-cutting spending review, it is not a never-ending process.

  564. What are we talking about?
  (Yvette Cooper) The Comprehensive Spending Review will report in July, at what point the work is completed between now and July I cannot give you a precise time scale at the moment. We can certainly give you information as soon as we can.

  Chairman: I think we may return to that subject later!

Mr Cummings

  565. What role do health authorities play in drawing up road safety strategies and the targets in the local transport plans? Should they have a bigger role, because I certainly see the minutes from the three health authorities I deal with and I cannot ever recall reading of their involvement in road traffic plans? How do you see the role changing in the future now that we are dealing with the primary care trusts and a much larger and, perhaps, more complicated health bureaucracy?
  (Yvette Cooper) I think from a health point of view it is moving in the opposite direction, it should actually be simpler and more local rather than introducing more bureaucracy, that should be about taking away a layer of bureaucracy. What you are doing is that in place of the health authorities you have the primary care trusts which are based round the delivery of primary care and GPs, and so on, in each local area and each of these primary care trusts has to have a public health director. The public health director being more locally based than the health authorities should be well placed to work with local government on exactly these kind of issues in the future, so the structure should be improving to encourage that.

  566. Are you saying the structure should be or is at the present time?
  (Yvette Cooper) It is improving and it should give us more opportunities for closer working. The other thing that has also happened is that the regional directors of public health who used to be based in NHS regional offices are going to be based in the government office of the regions so that means at a regional level if you are looking at issues round transport you also have the NHS tied into the local government structure at a regional level, rather than being two parallel structures as has been the case in the past.


  567. Can I finally ask you one question, you have a target in your health White Paper for a reduction in the number of deaths by accident of 14 to 25 year olds, even in spite of all this cost-cutting, since most of the responsibility lies with other departments how are you going to achieve your target?
  (Yvette Cooper) Yes. That is exactly why we set up the cost-cutting health and equalities review because it does come back to the same thing, because in the end a lot of the responsibility for doing something is with other departments.

  568. Minister, how are you going to do it? You have your machinery, you set up your cross-cutting, how are you going to do it, or is the target just a waste of space!
  (Yvette Cooper) We also have the Accidental Injury Task Force, which is due to report to the Chief Medical Officer very shortly, which has been looking specifically at targets round accidental injury and suggesting a series of interventions to actually do that. That has come up with, I think, four priorities areas that it has looked at, one round falls at or near home; secondly round road accidents; thirdly round fires in the home and fourthly round play and recreation, primarily round accidents and injuries to children. I have not seen the Accidental Injury Task Force Report, it has not come to ministers yet, and it is just going to the Chief Medical Officer, but there will be more than we can say to you when that reports as well.

  569. Since we do not want to take up too much of your time would you let us have a copy of your terms of reference for your cross-cutting review?
  (Yvette Cooper) Yes. [1]

  Chairman: Then we can also ask you later what you have achieved. You have been very helpful, Minister, thank you very much.

1   Note by witness: HC Deb, 27 July 2000, Col 754W. Back

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