CONSULTATION ON COMMISSIONING – CAMPAIGN FOR TIME TO RESPOND
NALM, the National Association of LINks members, has complained to health minister Jeremy Hunt about the lack of consultation time on specialised service commissioning, which will affect the addiction-treatment field. The NALM letter below explains the facts – join them in asking Hunt for more time to respond. National Association of LINks Members.
"There has been no process of broad and extensive engagement on the 120 draft service specifications and 43 clinical commissioning policies as claimed by the NHSCB, and little public influence to inform and influence the policies and specifications."
Deadline is currently 25 January!
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Secretary of State for Health
Department of Health
79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS January 20th 2013
Dear Mr Hunt,
We are writing to share with you our concerns about the performance of the NHS Commissioning Board, in relation its statutory duty to consult the public on major issues of policy regarding the commissioning of health care.
Our concerns relate to the ‘Consultation on service specifications and clinical policies’, which are subject to public consultation from 12 December 2012 to 25 January 2013 – 29 working days, including the Christmas period. This consultation sought the public’s views on 120 draft service specifications and 43 clinical commissioning policies. We believe that allowing such a short time for a critical public consultation is inadequate and inappropriate.
These service specifications and clinical commissioning policies for specialised services are key to defining what services need to be in place for providers to offer user-led, evidence-based, safe and effective services. The NHSCB are seeking the views of patients and carers, patient groups, charities, nurses, doctors and service providers, in a way that is not consistent with either the statutory duties of the NHS Commissioning Board, the NHS constitution or Cabinet Office guidance.
We have written to David Nicholson on two occasions regarding this matter but have not had the courtesy of a reply or even an acknowledgement.
As you know, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (Para 23, 13Q) places a duty on the NHS Commissioning Board in relation to public involvement and consultation by the Board.
The Board must make arrangements to secure that individuals to whom the services are being or may be provided are involved (whether by being consulted or provided with information or in other ways)—
(a) in the planning of the commissioning arrangements by the Board,
(b) in the development and consideration of proposals by the Board for changes in the commissioning arrangements where the implementation of the proposals would have an impact on the manner in which the services are delivered to the individuals or the range of health services available to them, and
(c) in decisions of the Board affecting the operation of the commissioning arrangements where the implementation of the decisions would (if made) have such an impact.
It was clearly the intention of Parliament that public involvement and consultation with the public should become very much more effective and inclusive and be enacted so as to be pursuant with the aspirations of the White Paper Equity and Excellence (July 2010), which intended to ‘strengthen the collective voice of patients’ in the NHS and other health services.
The NHS Commissioning Board also seem to be ignoring their duty to promote the NHS Constitution
(a) act with a view to securing that health services are provided in a way which promotes the NHS Constitution,
(b) promote awareness of the NHS Constitution among patients, staff and members of the public.
In relation to their duties under the NHS Constitution, the NHS Commissioning Board should ensure in relation to public consultation that:
4. NHS services must reflect the needs and preferences of patients, their families and their carers. Patients, with their families and carers, where appropriate, will be involved in and consulted on all decisions about their care and treatment.
7. The NHS is accountable to the public, communities and patients that it serves. The NHS is a national service funded through national taxation, and it is the Government which sets the framework for the NHS and which is accountable to Parliament for its operation. However, most decisions in the NHS, especially those about the treatment of individuals and the detailed organisation of services, are rightly taken by the local NHS and by patients with their clinicians. The system of responsibility and accountability for taking decisions in the NHS should be transparent and clear to the public, patients and staff. The Government will ensure that there is always a clear and up-to-date statement of NHS accountability for this purpose.
But there has been no process of broad and extensive engagement on the 120 draft service specifications and 43 clinical commissioning policies as claimed by the NHSCB, and little public influence to inform and influence the policies and specifications.
The NHSCB claims that their intention is to expose the specifications and policies to more stakeholders, to ensure there are safe and effective services. It is quite unrealistic for them to believe they can push this process through by 1st April 2013, in a way that is consistent with their statutory duties, and quite improper to claim that a consultation of 29 working days is adequate.
As you know, the government’s own Code of Practice on Consultations states consultations should normally last for at least 12 weeks.
Criterion - Duration of consultation exercises
Consultations should normally last for at least 12 weeks with consideration given to longer timescales where feasible and sensible.
LINks, Pathfinder Healthwatches and voluntary sector bodies need time both to examine the NHSCB draft specifications in detail and to collect local external evidence to support their response.
The seven Cabinet Office consultation criteria are shown below.
Could we ask you to take urgent and immediate action to remind David Nicholson and the NHSCB of their duties in relation to public consultation and involvement, and to ask them to follow best practice in relation to their duties to involve the public? We strongly believe that an additional month at least is required to ensure that public, patients and carers are able to fully contribute to this important consultation.
Malcolm Alexander Ruth Marsden
Chair Vice Chair
Copy to: Norman Hunt MP, David Nicholson, Ian Dalton and Tim Kelsey
THE SEVEN CONSULTATION CRITERIA
Criterion - When to consult
Formal consultation should take place at a stage when there is scope to influence
the policy outcome.
Criterion - Duration of consultation exercises
Consultations should normally last for at least 12 weeks with consideration given
to longer timescales where feasible and sensible.
Criterion- Clarity of scope and impact
Consultation documents should be clear about the consultation process, what is
being proposed, the scope to influence and the expected costs and benefits of
Criterion - Accessibility of consultation exercises
Consultation exercises should be designed to be accessible to, and clearly targeted
at, those people the exercise is intended to reach.
Criterion – The burden of consultation
Keeping the burden of consultation to a minimum is essential if consultations are
to be effective and if consultees’ buy-in to the process is to be obtained.
Criterion - Responsiveness of consultation exercises
Consultation responses should be analysed carefully and clear feedback should
be provided to participants following the consultation.
Criterion - Capacity to consult
Officials running consultations should seek guidance in how to run an effective
consultation exercise and share what they have learned from the experience.
These criteria should be reproduced in consultation documents.