Examination of Witnesses (Questions 35-39)
MR TOMMY MORGAN, MS PAT CADWALLADER, MR ROBERT HALL, MS JANE JEFFS, MS CAROLYN THEOBALD AND MR CLIVE BARNBY
MONDAY 17 JUNE 2002
35. If I might explain what we are doing while you are getting yourselves ready. First of all, please do not be intimidated by the way that we have set out the room. This is how select committees have to work. It is laid down by standing Orders of the House. Everything you say will be taken down in evidence, but it may not be used against you! The way that we are approaching this is it is very much a draft Bill. I have my slight reservations about the way that it has been presented as a draft Bill. It looks no different to a normal Bill coming forward but I think that misses an opportunity in that we are talking about general principles and trying to get the thing right. So what we are doing here today is trying to get your views. We will be asking the questions, but feel free to let us know your views on the draft Bill in that process, if you would. First of all, do you mind what CHCs are called in the Bill?
(Mr Morgan) We are happy with the title as it is. I think over the last two or three years we have gained quite a lot of notoriety because of the Minister in England's decision to disband them in England, and I think it has given us the opportunity in Wales to become more to the fore. We are quite happy to change the name if it raises our profile in any way, but over the last couple of years our profile has been raised and I think we are quite happy.
36. I think it is fair to say that you have raised your profile in Wales in a positive way rather than a negative way?
(Mr Morgan) I think so, yes.
37. You are happy with the name. Are you happy with the CHC provisions in the draft Bill and the degree to which detailed arrangements are being given to the National Assembly to decide.
(Mr Morgan) Before I answer that question can I say that as the Association of Welsh Community Health Councils we welcome the draft NHS Bill and also the opportunity to comment on the content of the Bill to the Welsh Affairs Committee today. I would like to introduce members, if I may.
38. I should have asked you to introduce them.
(Mr Morgan) Would you like to introduce yourselves.
(Mr Hall) I am Bob Hall, Vice Chairman of the Association. I was the previous Chairman of Gwent CHC.
(Ms Cadwallader) Pat Cadwallader, Vice Chairman of the Association and Chairman of the Ynys Mon Commununity Health Council.
(Ms Theobald) I am Carolyn Theobold, Chair of the Society of CHC Staff in Wales and Chief Officer of Clwyd Community Health Council.
(Mr Barnby) I am Clive Barnby, Secretary of the Society of CHC Staff and I am an appointee of Pontypridd and Rhondda Community Health Council.
(Ms Jeffs) I am Jane Jeffs, I am the Chief Officer of the Association. We have tried very hard to give you a geographical spread so that you have got people representing all parts of Wales. My previous background was Mid Wales and South West Wales and we have covered most of them.
39. I think you have made a very good attempt.
(Mr Morgan) May I go on to answer your question. The responses that we got from the majority of CHCs indicated a general welcoming of the main changes, which are the extension of CHC rights into primary care and wherever else provision is made for NHS patients; the statutory inclusion of a complaints advocacy role; recognition of the nature of the need to resource that; the setting up of a central support body for CHCs on a statutory basis, hopefully a similar body to ACTU in England and Wales but with statutory powers; and the ability to change the name, as you already asked, if it is considered necessary to improve public awareness. However, we are concerned about the omission of the furnishing of information from health bodies to enable us to carry out our tasks. This was in the 1977 Act but it does not appear in this draft Bill. We would point out that we would wish this to be included if it is at all possible. We would like clarification about to whom we refer unsatisfactory consultation. It does not make that clear in this draft Bill. We would like CHCs to be one of the public bodies whose members have a statutory right to time off work in order to carry out public duties. CHCs in the past have not been included in this role, so we would ask that this would be included please. I do not think it is in the Bill; it will be in the Regulation rather than in the Bill itself.