Consultation on local authority health scrutiny

This consultation on local authority health scrutiny runs until 7 September 2012

The changes proposed in this consultation will update the arrangements and regulations for local authority health scrutiny and help to ensure that the interests of patients and the public are at the heart of the planning, delivery and reconfiguration of health services.

The consultation seeks views on whether health service reconfiguration and referrals should also include a:

  • requirement for local authorities and the NHS to agree and publish clear timescales for making a decision on whether a proposal should be referred
  • new intermediate referral stage to the NHS Commissioning Board for some service reconfigurations
  • requirement for local authorities to take account of the financial sustainability of services when considering a referral, in addition to issues of safety, effectiveness and the patient experience
  • requirement for health scrutiny to obtain the agreement of the full council before a referral can be made.

New rules already provide local authorities will no longer be obliged to have an overview and scrutiny committee through which to discharge their health scrutiny functions, but will be able to discharge these functions in different ways through suitable alternative arrangements, including through overview and scrutiny committees.  It will be for the full council of each local authority to determine which arrangement is adopted;

Main proposals:

The application of the NHS failure regime is exempt from scrutiny. There will be  a new intermediate referral stage for referral to the NHS Commissioning Board for some service reconfigurations;

Local authorities will have to:

  •  publish a timescale for making a decision on whether any proposal will be referred;
  •  take account of financial and clinical resources when considering a referral;
  •  involve the full council of a local authority to make  a referral.
It is proposed to formalise the arrangements for joint health scrutiny committees