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Baroness Andrews: I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for that explanation, which she delivered with the authority of her profession working in Wales. She is absolutely right, and I hope she has reassured noble Lords that there will be no difference in the standards of clinical care provided, or between desired patient outcomes, in England or Wales. However, she has explained that there are differences in the ways of doing things and the way in which the bodies will work. She has drawn attention to the fact that there will be a health inspectorate in Wales which will be created under the Government of Wales Act 1998. It will do just as she saysdrive up local standards across Wales in certain areas. At the same time, CHAI will be in operation in certain clinical areas, doing its cross-border work.
Let me gently remind the Committee that, in Wales, health is a devolved matter. The National Assembly is responsible for the delivery of healthcare services in Wales. It should set its own healthcare standards; it should reflect the social and medical demography; it should involve its clinicians, voluntary bodies and patients in the way in which it knows will work best, because its history and geography are different. In exactly the same way as the Secretary of State would expect to set healthcare standards with all the conditions that my noble friend discussed, so does the National Assembly expect to set them in Wales.
In would be unreasonable in the future for CHAI simply to impose its own standards across Wales as it will be developing them in England. I do not want to extend this debate, in view of the hour, and I hope that the noble Earl will not oppose the Question that the clause should stand part of the Bill.
Earl Howe: Perhaps I could wrap up this short debate by thanking all those who have taken part. It has been illuminating, and I am particularly grateful to both noble Baronesses who have spoken from the Cross Benches for teasing out some of the finer points of these issues.
Yes, the Minister is quite righthealth is a devolved matter to Wales. I am not seeking to turn the clock back. The Welsh Assembly is responsible for the delivery of healthcare in Wales and the prioritisation of services. If it chooses, it is entitled to set targets.
I am in no way advocating the imposition of English standards on Welsh clinicians and Welsh patients. I would not dream of such a thingit would be patronising in the extreme. However, I am in favour of a collaborative, nationwide approach to the setting of standards. That is a desirable aim for both English and Welsh patients and for those who administer the treatment. It is not heresy to propose that CHAI and clinicians on both sides of the border should agree to what standards the NHS should work. That leaves entirely open the question of implementation criteria and prioritisation and all the other things that I have mentioned.
The noble Baroness said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Peyton, and at his specific request, I move Amendment No. 269. I shall speak also to our amendment, Amendment No. 373, standing in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Howe. Like my noble friend Lord Howe, I cannot pretend to rise to the oratorical heights of my noble friend Lord Peyton in moving the amendment, but I hope that I do not let him down too badly. He will certainly let me know if I do.
CHAI has been set up, as its title informs us, to audit and inspect the NHS. It is really asking too much of such an organisation to have as its "general function"by which I assume is meant an overriding or exceedingly important functionthe improvement of healthcare. Like many organisations that involve audit and inspection, we will expect CHAI to produce from time to time illuminating insights into how
Amendment No. 373 in this group adds elderly people to the children who are specified as a particular focus of CHAI in Clauses 47 and 101. If children are to be specified, the exclusion of other vulnerable groups from special mention leads the reader of the Bill to believe that they are less important. We seriously doubt the need positively to specify particular patient groups in either of the clauses.
The inclusion of children, though worthy, seems likely to owe more to the issue of the moment, following the Victoria Climbie inquiry, than to rational analysis. Over time, different groups will be perceived as more or less worthy of special focus. That could be safely left to CHAI, but if the Government are determined to include one vulnerable group, we believe that, as a minimum, elderly people must also be included. Elderly people comprise a large group of people with many and varied special needs, and they can be at least as vulnerable as the young. I beg to move.
Baroness Barker: I shall speak to Amendment No. 270 and all those that follow in the group. To a large extent, I echo the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes. We believe that it is somewhat invidious to have named one particular group in the Bill. It is particularly strange to have done so, given that older people comprise the largest number of healthcare users.
As regards the other amendments, we believe that a key function of CHAI will be to inspect the provision on the availability of information about healthcare. Time and again in surveys consumers of healthcare mention their concern about access to information on local healthcare services. Throughout the passage of this Bill noble Lords and Members of another place have spoken about the Office of Fair Trading report on dentistry and the great difficulties people have knowing where to get information about local dental services. Guides to local NHS services were supposed to be distributed to every household last October and yet surveys show that people do not recall having received them. Information about the availability of healthcare is of fundamental importance. Therefore, we believe that it should come within the functions of CHAI.
In Amendment No. 275 I return to my favourite subject of ethical practice. We believe that it should be an explicit function of CHAI to have and to provide information about ethical practice within healthcare.
I hate to tackle the Minister as he did not have the joy of being the Minister during the passage of the delayed discharge Act but during that Act's passage we spent a very, very long time discussing this matter. We did so in the wake of the ombudsman's report which was highly critical of the Department of Health's guidance on information about the continuing healthcare duties of the Department of Health. Since that time all strategic health authorities are supposed to have instigated a review of the information made available by agencies, and particularly to analyse the extent to which it is compliant with the Coughlan judgment. There remains a great deal of uncertainty about the clarity of the information and, indeed, the clarity of the guidance which is available. We believe that that is a critical function for CHAI to inspect, involving, as it does, one of the biggest groups of users of services.
The Minister will know that an immense amount of work is being done on the implementation of the No Secrets guidance regarding good practice in the protection of vulnerable adults. In the light of that we believe that it is wrong not to mention vulnerable adults, people with learning disabilities and people with mental health problems on the face of the Bill. The amendments seek to correct that.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland: I wish to address Clause 47(2)(d). I wish to retain that provision in the Bill. I have had a long career working with the whole range of vulnerable groups, including many who are invisible when in hospital. I have been involved with an organisation which seeks to promote the recruitment of specialist nurses to help disabled people entering hospital as their needs are not always recognised.
I wish to have children firmly included on the face of the Bill because they are the most invisible group in a hospital setting. Children and young people become lost on general wards as there is still not a great deal of specialist provision for them. That does not mean that I do not believe that there are vast numbers of other people with rights. However, the fact that most of the users of hospital services are elderly people gives them a huge advantage in terms of the acknowledgement and attention that they receive whereas children become lost in such a setting.
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