This collection of the legislation which affects Community Health Councils takes into account the regulations, caselaw and guidance issued up to September 2001. From December 2003 these regulations only apply in Wales, and they have been amended.
Discussions of the rights and duties of a CHC are often conducted entirely in terms of Department of Health letters and circulars. Sometimes these expound the law as the writers would like it to be rather than as it is, and there are times when only a study of the words laid down by Parliament will do. It is the Act and Regulations, and not the circulars, which are legally binding, both on members and staff of CHCs and on health authorities of all kinds. Both CHCs and health authorities need a clear understanding of each others’ rights and duties. It is hoped that this publication will continue to develop that understanding and be of use to all those who need to know about the powers and duties of Community Health Councils, and that it may contribute to the debate about how those powers and duties should evolve. Under the new regulations the Secretary of State is given considerable freedom to exercise discretion about the way in which the affairs of CHCs are conducted. It will be interesting to see if the exercise of discretion gives rise to any legal challenges.
In writing the notes I have taken into account the following Department of Health circulars:
HSC(IS)207, HC(81)15, EL(89)P/30, ML(91)2, EL(90)185, ML(92)1, EL(92)11, EL(96)17.
I have also relied heavily, like many CHC members, on Christine Hogg’s Handbook for Community Health Council Members. In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland things are now different.
The text of the law and the guidance is Crown Copyright, and is reproduced with permission.
The National Health Service Act 1977 as modified by the Health Authorities Act 1995 and the Health (Wales) Act 2003 (relevant extracts)
The National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 (relevant extracts)
The Community Health Council Regulations 1996 as modified by the Community Health Councils (amendment) Regulations 1999 and 2000
The Community Health Councils (Access to Information) Act 1988 and The Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as modified by the 1988 Act and the NHS and Community Care Act 1990
The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 1992 (relevant extracts)