Community Health Councils to be abolished as Senedd approves law

(Title Image: Wales Online)

One non-coronavirus related item of business yesterday afternoon was the final vote on the Health & Care Quality Bill, a week after the final amending stage.

Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W. & S. Pembs.), said the Bill started with a lot of promise and could’ve forced the NHS to see care quality as a key driver.

Unfortunately, the Bill remained weaker than it should be in many areas, including the overly-broad definition of “care quality” and the lack of any measures to put in place when health boards and other providers fail.

“I understand this Bill….would not necessarily have prevented some of the scandals that we’ve seen in places like Cwm Taf and Betsi Cadwaladr, However, it would, with more teeth, have enabled us to strive for an NHS with an honest and open culture – a culture where, when a nurse or a midwife does a report that says, ‘There are serious failings in maternity services’, he or she would feel empowered to be able to flag that up, because that’s a duty of candour. Nothing in the current Bill is there that says, ‘You can do that’. In fact, rather it’s ‘Please be candid’ and ‘Oh, never mind….There’s not a lot we’re going to do about it’.”
– Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns AM

Plaid Cymru lamented the loss of Community Health Councils. Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn) said they provided an effective means of scrutinising health boards and there were also serious concerns over the independence of the replacement Citizens’ Voice Body.

Replying on behalf of the government, Counsel General, Jeremy Miles (Lab, Neath),  said that despite disagreement between the government and opposition parties, there is a common purpose and he believes the Bill would “strengthen the duty of quality, the duty of candour, governance arrangements and the voice of the public.”

Vote

There is, as far as I know, no minimum number of AMs who need to be present in plenary for the Senedd to have a quorum.

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