Information about my work as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet

Monday, 22 October 2012


This morning, I went to the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) meeting in Camden Town Hall.

With unreadable reports filled with unexplained acronyms and management gobbledegook, I do feel that the NHS needs to make better efforts to explain things to people in ways that can be understood! I am not a member of the JHOSC, I go as a member of the public with a personal interst in Health issues. And that's really important. The NHS IS accountable to the public. It SHOULD be accountable to the public.

Yours truly has never been to the (very nice) Camden Town Hall, and was a little late. I arrived in the middle of what I can only describe as a polite disagreement. It turns out that someone in the NHS has said that the NHS should not be accountable to politicians, as we don't know what we are doing and we don't understand the NHS.

Well, perhaps you might be able to help by producing reports that can be read! But it's a serious charge. Whatever people think of politicians, and people don't think much of politicians, we do represent the people. Bodies are accountable to us because we are accountable to the people, hence bodies are accountable to the public. Beyond Barnet Council, most people see scrutiny as a positive thing, something that makes decision making better and accountability stronger. In fact, the JHOSC won an award for their excellent work precisely because they do know what they are doing.

Councillors are new to scrutinizing Health. We do other areas, and tend to do it well. When we have more expereince in scrutinizing Health, we will be just as valued for it. JHOSC is already recognised for it's diligence, and it is already having an impact.

There was a motion to send a letter to this individual to complain about their words. After a lot of two-ing and fro-ing, the vote was won 2-1 (with 2 abstentions) in favour of sending the letter. This was achieved, as much on the JHOSC is, through cross party work.

There were other reports afterwards, which JHOSC members managed to get some interesting answers from, despite the turgidity of wording in the presentations.

It was interesting to hear that when the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are shut in favour of the new Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in April 2013, there is still uncertainty over the ownership of some of the assets. It appears that those who do not go tot he successor trusts and organisations will be put into a limited company, PropCo, which will be wholly woned by the Department of Health. What is interesting is that if assets are disposed of, it will be up to the Secretary of State for Health to determine who gets what from the profits.

All in all an important and useful meeting, even if it is tree hours of difficult reports.