Section 21 - Functions of Special Health Authorities
184.Subsection (2) of this section substitutes subsection (1) of section 7 of the NHS Act. The new subsection allows the Secretary of State to direct a Special Health Authority to exercise any function relating to the health service in England. This function could be a function of the Secretary of State or any other person.
185.The Secretary of State already has powers to direct a Special Health Authority to exercise any of his/her functions relating to the health service. This provision would amend that power so that it relates to health service functions in general. This is because some of the functions currently exercised by existing Special Health Authorities, in particular the NHS Business Services Authority and the NHS Litigation Authority, would be functions of the NHS Commissioning Board or CCGs in the new system. Where the Secretary of State is directing a Special Health Authority to undertake the functions of another organisation, he must do so through regulations that are subject to the negative resolution procedure (subsection (6)).
186.For existing Special Health Authorities (NHS Blood and Transplant, NHS Business Services Authority and the NHS Litigation Authority), there would be no need to re-issue the current directions specifying their functions and they would continue in force as if given under the new power - this is provided for in paragraph 5 of Schedule 6.
187.Subsection (1A) of the amended section 7 prevents the Secretary of State from delegating the function of making orders or regulations to Special Health Authorities.
188.New subsection (1B) provides that if the Secretary of State directs a Special Health Authority to exercise a function of a person other than the Secretary of State, he must consult that person before giving the direction.
189.New subsection (1C) would give the Secretary of State the power to confer new functions on a Special Health Authority, as specified in regulations. This would provide the Secretary of State with flexibility to respond to changes over time. These regulations would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure to ensure that Parliament would be able to scrutinise any new functions that the Secretary of State wished to confer on a Special Health Authority.