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Health and Social Care Act 2001

Scrutiny of Health Service provision, Patient and Public involvement and Independent Advocacy – Background

49.The Government believes that patients and the public should have a much greater role in the development and operation of the NHS. Chapter 10 of the NHS Plan set out the Government’s proposals for enhancing patient and public influence and for introducing local democratic scrutiny of the NHS through local authority overview and scrutiny committees.

50.Sections 7 – 12 make provision for this strengthened patient and public consultation and involvement in the operation of the NHS. Local authority overview and scrutiny committees will scrutinise the NHS including decisions on NHS reorganisations and service change. Independent complaint advocacy services will be provided across the country to assist patients in making complaints about health services. NHS bodies will have a statutory duty to make arrangements with a view to securing that the public are involved in and consulted on the planning of NHS services and decisions affecting the operation of those services.

51.The new arrangements are to be complemented by a new non-statutory arrangement, Patient Advocacy and Liaison Services (PALS). PALs will be new trust-based services able to assist and support patients. They will be able to provide information and resolve problems and difficulties. It is intended that they will be situated in or near main reception areas of hospitals and act as a welcoming point for patients and carers. The PALS will also advise patients on how to access independent advocacy to support their complaints.

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