Peers discussing the health bill clause by clause tomorrow – lots of research on the cards

Posted on October 24, 2011 by

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The House of Lords start scrutinising the Health & Social Care Bill clause by clause tomorrow. Lots of amendments have been tabled to drive the discussion – they’ve all been marshalled into one list here (although this will be updated as more are likely to be tabled during committee stage. It’s scheduled to last for ten days).

A number of amendments have been tabled on research issues including:

  • probing the strength of the duties on the secretary of state to promote research and the use of research evidence by the health service, how far this requires the secretary of state to act to promote this..
  • exploring the NHS Commissioning Board’s similar responsibility towards research and how the board could be encouraged to plan for, assess and report on its support for research.
  • exploring how Clinical Commissioning Groups will be required to report on their use of research when they commission services to ensure there are incentives or them to build research and the use of research evidence into the commissioning process and their performance can be monitored.
  • looking at the creation of Public Health England (the bill abolishes the Health Protection Agency which currently provides the government and public with independent advice on health protection issues and creates Public Health England) and exploring whether the planned governance arrangements for Public Health England will give the new agency the independence from government it needs to keep providing independent expert advice on what can be quite contentious public health issues (think flu pandemics and things like that).
  • the new Health Research Authority – the planned single regulator of health research which is being set up in response to the Academy of Medical Sciences’ recommendations to improve the regulation of health research in the UK. This is being established at the moment temporarily as a special health authority. These amendments push for further clarity of the government’s vision for the new authority when it is up and running. Where will it fit in the whole regulatory and governance framework across the UK? it is being established to streamline regulation and to effectively create a single regulatory and governance pathway for health research to happen across the UK – but there is little detail so far of what power it will have to help coordinate and oversee all the different regulatory steps. The amendments also give an opportunity to push for more detail of the planned timetable for it being established in primary legislation and further regulatory functions moved into it..

We – lots of charities and organisations who fund and support health research in the UK – have worked together to produce a briefing for the peers speaking in the debate, giving further detail and background on all these amendments.

Committee stage is scheduled to last for 10 days starting tomorrow. A lot of the research-focused amendments come up in the first few clauses so will be discussed quite early on. You can see the order the bill we be discussed in at the top of the marshalled list of amendments.

Posted in: Policy