Comments on draft Care and Support Bill published

Posted on December 7, 2012 by

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The Department of Health have published a summary of all the comments they have received on the draft Care and Support Bill. This draft bill is being discussed by a joint committee of peers and MPs.

The draft Bill includes clauses to establish the Health Research Authority (HRA) and Health Education England (HEE) so there are some interesting bits in here for health research.

The committee is due to report by March 2013, after which the government will respond jointly to the committee and the comments raised here.

Background

The draft Care and Support Bill was published in July for scrutiny. This is to allow the Department of Health to refine the proposals within it and look to publish a final Care and Support Bill to go through Parliament in the normal way in a future session.

We are particularly interested in it from a research perspective because it includes clauses to establish the Health Research Authority and Health Education England as non-departmental public bodies, both of which play an important role in embedding research throughout the NHS.

The government held a public consultation on the draft Bill – AMRC responded jointly with charities and other organisations funding and supporting medical research in the UK.

As part of the scrutiny of a draft Bill, a joint committee of peers and MPs will now look at it in detail, making recommendations on how it can be improved.

12 Committee members were announced on 22 November – you can see the full list here – and are due to report by 7 March 2013.

Interesting bits for research in the summary of responses

Part 2 considers HEE and HRA – there is a brief summary of the key points in the exec summary:

Part 2 – HEE and HRA

  • Respondents broadly welcomed the proposals to establish HEE and HRA as NDPBs and local education and training board (LETB) governing bodies as committees of HEE.

  • They were keen to understand more about how HEE will ensure that the system is accountable, integrated, professionally informed, and that quality improvement underpins all education and training activity.

  • They welcomed clarification of the HRA’s role in promoting standardised practice in the regulation of health and social care research and in ensuring such regulation is proportionate, but wanted to see greater clarification of its role in facilitating research governance to address the complexity, duplication and delays in obtaining approval to undertake research in the NHS.

Responses:

  • page 18-21 on HEE – includes comments on the valuable role HEE can play in supporting research and the development of a research-centred NHS. In particular issues we raised about strengthening the duty on HEE “to have regard to the need to promote research” to a “duty to promote research” and ensuring that HEE has a good relationship with LETBs, Academic Health Science Centres and Academic Health Science Networks.
  • page 22-23 on HRA – lots of support for the HRA but some questions about how it will work in practice, it’s relationship with others responsible for research governance in the NHS, how it will engage with patients and the public and “horizon-scan” for new ethical issues raised by advances in research. And a call for more information about how it will regulate the use of confidence patient information for medical research.
  • page 24 on consultation about abolition of the Human Fertilisation and Embyrology Authority (HFEA) and Human Tissues Authority (HTA). This draft Bill contains clauses which would be needed should these be abolished and any transfer of functions take place. A consultation on this was held separately. This notes that the government are analysing the responses to that consultation at the moment and will be publishing  their response separately.

What next?

The Department of Health will be looking at all of these comments to consider how to improve the draft Bill. They will also feed into the scrutiny of the draft Bill by peers and MPs; the joint committee will take further oral and written evidence and make recommendations on how to improve the proposals in the draft Bill.

When the committee makes its recommendations, the government will respond jointly to both these and the comments in this consultation.

On Monday we are going to be hearing from a great line up of speakers talking about our ambitions for research in the NHS – including hearing from Dr Nicki Latham, Chief Operating Officer at Health Education England who will be talking about how they plan to support research as they get up and running.

Posted in: Policy