Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirty-First Report


APPENDIX X

Memorandum by the Scottish Office Department of Health

NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (SERVICE COMMITTEES AND TRIBUNAL) (SCOTLAND) AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 1998 (S.I. 1998/657)

The Committee considered the above instrument at its meeting on 7 April 1998 and requested a memorandum on the following point.

New regulation 24(1A) (inserted by regulation 3 of S.I. 1998/657) requires representations made under paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the 1997 Act to be sent to the Tribunal within 2 weeks from the date the Health Board received a medical practitioner's application for his name to be included in the medical list. New regulation 43B (inserted by regulation 7) requires the Secretary of State to publish information about such applications and the right of persons to make representations about such applications. Is it expected that the information will invariably be published immediately after the Health Board receives an application? In order to ensure that a person who might wish to make representations (under paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1 to the 1997 Act) is not prejudiced by any delay in the publication of the information, ought not new regulation 24(1A) to have required representations to be sent to the tribunal within 2 weeks of the date of publication of the information?

The Department accept the Committee's point and will make the appropriate amendment in further amending Regulations which will be made within the next 2 months.

17th April 1998

Memorandum by the Department of Health

NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (SERVICE COMMITTEES AND TRIBUNAL)

AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 1998 (S.I. 1998/674)

The Committee has requested a memorandum on the following point concerning the above regulations.

New regulation 24(1B) (inserted by regulation 6(2) of S.I. 1998/674) requires representations made under paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the 1997 Act to be sent to the Tribunal within 2 weeks from the date the Health Authority received a medical practitioner's application for his name to be included in the medical list. New regulation 31B (inserted by regulation 11) requires the Secretary of State to publish information about such applications and the right of persons to make representations about such applications. Is it expected that the information will invariably be published immediately after the Health Authority receives an application? In order to ensure that a person who might wish to make representations (under paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1 to the 1997 Act) is not prejudiced by any delay in the publication of the information, ought not new regulation 24(1B) to have required representations to be sent to the Tribunal within 2 weeks of the date of publication of the information?

The Department had to balance the need to publicise the fact that a medical practitioner had applied to have his name included in the medical list under Schedule 1 to the 1997 Act and the need for any representations against preferential treatment to be considered expeditiously. Determinations made by the Secretary of State under section 13 of the 1997 Act granting a medical practitioner preferential treatment will relate only to the list of the authority in whose area the medical practitioner had been performing personal medical services. It is therefore likely, although not necessarily the case, that any person who would wish to make representations under paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1 to the 1997 Act would have some connection with the area of that authority. In practice most representations will be made by a Health Authority, usually the one on whose list the medical practitioner has applied to have his name included. Health Authorities have considerable information about practitioners in their area and on the basis of that information, some of which is obtained from patients, they are able to decide whether representations should be made. It is for this reason that both the 1977 Act and the 1997 Act place a requirement on the Tribunal to consider representations or applications made by Health Authorities but give the Tribunal a discretion to hear representations or applications made by anyone else.

To ensure that any person is not prejudiced by any delay in publication Health Authorities will be required by directions to notify the Regional Office of the Department of Health within two days of receipt of an application under Schedule 1. The Regional Office concerned, on behalf of the Secretary of State, within two working days of receipt of such notification, shall send by E mail or by first class post notice of the application, together with details of the right to make representations against preferential treatment, to (i) the Chief Executives of all other Health Authorities in England and Wales, (ii) the Chief Executives of all NHS Trusts, (iii) the pilot scheme provider for whom the medical practitioner works, (iv) all Community Health Councils in the area of the Health Authority and (v) the Family Health Service Appeals Authority.

It is also the case that provisions under regulation 35 will be relevant. Regulation 35 (amended by regulation 12 of S.I. 1998/674) makes provision for the Tribunal to extend the time for making representations, when a request is made for an extension and it is satisfied that it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances. It was envisaged that by giving the Tribunal this power it would ensure that any person who wished to make representations against preferential treatment would not be prejudiced.

20th April 1998


 
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