June 14th 2002
For immediate release
Community Health Councils (CHCs) have reacted with a mixture of relief, pride and a tinge of sadness to the completion of the parliamentary debate over the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill, which includes the abolition of CHCs. The Bill was finally passed yesterday evening(13th June) in the Lords following a series of substantial government concessions.
Peter Walsh, Director of the Association of Community Health Councils, commented:
‘Our campaign has been an enormous success. All the individuals and organisations involved have every reason to feel proud of what has been accomplished. We didn’t set out to save CHCs. Our aim has always been to ensure that there continued to be a powerful voice for the community in the local NHS and that patients and the public had a body they could turn to for independent advice and support with complaints. On these issues of principle the government have accepted our arguments.
‘As a result of sustained pressure from all sides, the government has made very substantial concessions. The new role envisaged for the Patients’ Forums for Primary Care Trusts has the potential to preserve the informed overview, integration and independence, which would have been lost with the abolition of CHCs. The government has also accepted the argument for more independence for Patients’ Forums and the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health. We now have a framework that has the potential to form a good system of patient and public involvement in the NHS.
‘Of course this is also a poignant moment, as it finally seals the fate of CHCs. However, whilst there is widespread agreement that CHCs should have been reformed instead of abolished, there is great relief at the ending of almost 2 years of uncertainty, and an awful lot of pride about how much has been achieved since the abolition of CHCs was announced in the infamous chapter 10 of the NHS Plan. Now work must start in earnest to make the new system work in the interests of patient and public. The basics are in place but it is still going to require an awful lot of goodwill, resources and hard work. Crucially we need to ensure that we find a way of retaining the skills and experience of CHC staff and members in the new system.’
For further information please contact: Murray Benham on - 020 7609 8138
Notes to Editors