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Health and Social Care Act 2001

Section 8: Joint overview and scrutiny committees etc

58.This section allows the Secretary of State (or, in relation to Wales, the National Assembly for Wales) to make regulations which provide for joint overview and scrutiny committees of two or more local authorities; it allows for a number of different options. It enables the Secretary of State and the Assembly to make regulations providing for local authorities to form joint OSCs, for a local authority to delegate the NHS functions of their OSC to an OSC of another local authority, and for district council OSC members to be co-opted on to county council OSCs as voting members.

59.Subsection (2)(a) allows for two or more authorities, which can include district councils, to form a single overview and scrutiny committee to scrutinise health organisations. Where a district council joins with a county council, the scrutiny is the county council’s responsibility, and the county council will therefore remain in the lead. These joint arrangements may also include local authorities operating “alternative arrangements” under regulations under section 32 of the Local Government Act 2000. “Alternative arrangements” do not involve the creation of an executive for the authority, but they will provide for the establishment of a committee to undertake scrutiny functions similar to those carried out by an overview and scrutiny committee under section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000.

60.Subsection (2)(b) provides for two or more authorities whose OSCs have responsibility to scrutinise the NHS to give the lead to one OSC so that it exercises the others’ functions in relation to health scrutiny. Under this provision, a county council and district council could arrange for the district OSC to undertake the county council OSC’s responsibility of scrutinising health services in the district. This approach may be appropriate where a localised service is being considered, for example a particular PCT.

61.Subsection (2)(c) provides for a county council to co-opt one or more district council OSC members onto its own OSC; the county council may also co-opt district council OSC members when that county is part of a joint scheme with another OSC.

62.Subsection (3) allows regulations relating to the joint arrangements to set out the circumstances and conditions under which joint schemes can be established. District council involvement in the joint scheme arrangements will be set out in regulations; the lead will always be with local social services authorities. Regulations and directions may also under subsection (4) provide for the circumstances where authorities will be required to put in place joint scheme arrangements.

63.The regulations that relate to the normal arrangements for scrutiny and review of the NHS by OSCs will also apply to the scrutiny and review of the NHS where there is a joint scheme in operation.

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