15th February, 2000

For immediate release

Community Health Councils’ Response to

Government’s acceptance of Hinchliffe amendment

During yesterday’s third reading of the Health & Social Care Bill the government accepted 2 amendments put forward by David Hinchliffe, Labour Chair of the Health Select Committee. Donna Covey, Director of the Association of Community Health Councils, commented:

‘These amendments may help to limit the damage done by the abolition of Community Health Councils. We welcome the fact that the government has gone some way towards recognizing the importance of independent advocacy and providing a locally integrated watchdog.’

‘However, the government still intends to abolish Community Health Councils and their national Body. We believe this is a rash act of vandalism and we intend to pursue this issue in the Lords.

‘The amended bill that now goes to the House of Lords leaves a great deal to be desired. We remain concerned about the independence and the lack of statutory powers of the new structures. We believe that the government has now created an extraordinarily cumbersome, expensive and complicated system, which will inevitably confuse complainants. The bill also abolishes an effective and well-respected, national patient watchdog, without putting any national structure in its place. This is a glaring omission, which means that patients will have no-one to represent them at a national level, and that nation-wide information gathering, such as that which goes into our annual national ‘Casualty Watch’ survey, simply cannot take place.’

A mass lobby of parliament took place yesterday to protest the abolition of Community Health Councils. Charities, patient organisations, pensioners groups, Alder Hey parents, MPs from all parties and professional bodies, attended the lobby.


For further information please contact: Murray Benham on - 020 7609 8138

email: murray.benham@achcew.org.uk

website: www.achcew.org.uk


Notes to Editors