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Author Topic: Public Involvement in Health and Social Care Bound and Gagged?  (Read 674 times)


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Public Involvement in Health and Social Care Bound and Gagged?
« on: December 30, 2012, 11:52:42 PM »

New Care Watchdogs Put on Tight Leash by Government

Public Involvement in Health and Social Care Bound and Gagged?

Local Healthwatch (LHW), the new organisation designed by government to represent the public in the NHS and social care is being bound and gagged even before it opens its doors in April 2013.

New Regulations published by the government, are designed to limit LHW’s campaigning activities on behalf of the local people they represent. The Regulations effectively ban LHW from leading campaigns to change poor services and amend legislation, even if such changes would improve the safety and care received by patients or social care users.

Government’s Regulations also discourage:

"The promotion of, or opposition to, changes in policy adopted by
any governmental or public authority in relation to any matter."

These draconian Regulations effectively prevent LHW from campaigning to change the policies of local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups, hospitals and primary care. If LHW did carry out campaigning activities to change policy in health and social care, they would have to prove they were not leading the campaign, and their campaigning activities were incidental to other aspects of their work.

This latest blow to the effectiveness of LHW amounts to ‘intimidation by Regulation’ and follows massive budget cuts to LHW by some local authorities, one of the main bodies LHW is intended to monitor. NALM believes this further erosion of LHW’s independence of action is indefensible.

Malcolm Alexander, Chair of NALM said:

The government’s decision to further water down the powers of LHW is shocking, coming just before publication of the Francis Report on the disasters at Mid Staffordshire Hospital. LHW  Regulations further undermine the effectiveness of LHW as the  people’s watchdog in health and social care. They disempower and muzzle local people who were looking forward to a powerful local body to defend and promote local services. The Regulations also place unreasonable limits on the freedom of the community to campaign for legislation and local policies that will improve the quality of care. The government appears fearful of a proactive public and is denying it the right to challenge effectively.   
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