Several constituents wrote to me in suport of Mr Burstow’s proposed amendment to the Care bill, backed by the Labour party and 38 Degrees.
Mr Burstow sought to amend the Trust Speclal Administration regime introduced by Labour to deal with extreme hospital failures. The Coalition planned to continue the Labour approach, but also to make sure any considerations of changes to a hospital put into special measures could be considered in the local context of the services offered by neighbouring NHS hospitals. Mr Burstow was worried in case it became a route for closing more hospitals without proper consultsation. That is something I certainly did not wish to see either.
Ministers responded to this criticism in Clause 119 by making helpful changes to Labour’s approach. Public consultation periods are extended from 6 to 8 weeks, and remain a necessity. All Commissioners of local NHS services must be involved in any new plans and must agree with the proposals. Greater public and patient involvement is required under Clause 119 by requiring the Administrator to consult Councils and local healthwatch organisations, and to hold at least one public meeting.
Given these improvements, and given the Minister’s assurance that this special regime would only be used rarely in the future as in the past where a hospital has failed badly, Mr Burstow decided there was no need to move his proposal. Mr Burstow will also be involved in a working party to finalise the details of how to implement this new law.
Given Mr Burstow’s acceptance of the government’s approach, I also accepted the proposals of the Minister.