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John Healy Witness Statement

John Healy Witness Statement

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Published by: eclarke04 on Mar 06, 2012
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1
EA/2011/0286 & 0287IN THE MATTER OF AN APPEAL TO THE FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL(INFORMATION RIGHTS) UNDER SECTION 57 OFTHE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000B E T W E E N:-DEPARTMENT OF HEALTHAppellant-and-THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONERFirst Respondent-and-JOHN HEALEY MPSecond RespondentWITNESS STATEMENT OF JOHN HEALEY MP
I,
JOHN HEALEY MP
, of House of Commons, London,
WILL SAY
as follows:
Introduction
1.
 
I am the Labour Member of Parliament for Wentworth & Dearne in South Yorkshire.I was first elected to the Commons in 1997. Throughout almost 15 years as an MP Ihave been closely involved with local developments, and difficulties, in the NHS andbeen in close working contact with local doctors, nurses, para-medics, pharmacistsand patients groups. Throughout this time every three months, I meet with the chairand chief executive of our local Rotherham hospital and of our commissioning trust.Constituents
 –
patients and staff 
 –
who need individual help with NHS complaints orhealth problems also regularly require my detailed personal involvement in how theNHS is working. So like any good constituency MP, I have a well informed lay view of the NHS. I am also a father and a son, with a wider family. We need the NHS. Wetrust it when we are most fearful. We utterly depend on it when we are most
 
2
vulnerable. This is why our NHS matters so much and means so much to almosteveryone in the country.2.
 
In October 2010 I was appointed Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary. I served in this
role until I took the decision to step down from the shadow cabinet a year later.3.
 
I submitted my FoI request for the Department of Health to release the risk registerfor
the transition of the Government’s NHS reorganisation in November 2010. TheInformation Commissioner’s Decision Notice was issued in November 2011. During
this period the Health and Social Care bill was introduced in the House of Commonsin January 2011, and by December 2011 had been passed by the Commons andcompleted its Committee stage in the House of Lords. The
Government’s
Parliamentary business schedule means the Lords are set to pass the bill back to theCommons by Easter, so it receives Royal Assent before a probable end to the present
Parliamentary session and new Queen’s Speech in May.
4.
 
The chorus of criticism and coalition of calls for the bill to be dropped or significantly
further amended is greater now than at the start of the bill’s Parliamen
tary passage.Public, professional, and Parliamentary concern about the changes and the need forreassurance about the possible consequences is also greater now than when I mademy disclosure request.5.
 
The public interest in disclosure is urgent in light of the NHS bill before Parliament;but it will remain important during the period of transition to the new system overthe next 2-3 years.
Disclosure of the NHS transition risk register is exceptional, specific and vital for publicreassurance
6.
 
The Government’s health reforms are the biggest reorganisation in NHS history. Its
NHS bill is the longest ever; more than three times longer than the 1946 Act that set
 
3
up the NHS. The changes are being carried out during the tightest financial squeezeon health services finances since the 1950s.7.
 
Furthermore, NHS reorganisation was explicitly ruled out in the Conservativeelection manifesto and the Coalition Agreement in May 2010. So the huge upheavallaunched by the White Paper just two months later was unexpected; and the NHSand civil service were unprepared.8.
 
Risk has therefore been at the heart of concern about the NHS reforms from theoutset. Lack of evidence and confidence about how well the Government wasprepared to manage the risks was a major cause of growing professional, public andParliamentary alarm at the plans in Autumn 2010 and Winter 2011.9.
 
The Conservative-chaired, All-Party Health Select Committee published its 2
nd
Reportof the 2010-11 session
on ‘Public Expenditure’ in December 2010. It observed:
“We have heard numerous warnings of the risks involved in combining the tight spending
envelope and the need for unprecedented efficiency savings with the large-scalereorganisation of NHS structures
.”
 
And concluded:
There are clear risks associated with the transition period. For example, SHAs and PCTs willcease to exist, but there will be a reliance on them in the short-term around both managingthe transition period and delivering ongoing efficiency savings, such as those associated withthe QIPP programme ...Even if well managed, widespread organisation reform can meanservices stand still for a period rather than progress. If managed poorly, services andfinances may suffer. There is clear evidence that organisations distracted by reform can
experience major financial and service failure.”
 
10.
 
In its 3
rd
 
Report on ‘Commissioning’ published in January 2011
the Select Committeeconcluded:
"Like most observers, the Committee was surprised by the change of approach between theCoalition Programme and the White Paper. The White Paper proposes a disruptivereorganisation of the institutional structure of the NHS which was subject to little priordiscussion and not foreshadowed in the Coalition Programme.
While such a “surprise”
approach is not necessarily wrong, it does increase the level of risk involved in policyimplementation. It allows less time to understand complexity and detail, and less time todevelop and explain policy; and it leads to less understanding of objectives by staff, patients
and local communities. A successful “surprise” strategy requires clarity and planning, but the
Committee does not think that the White Paper reflected these qualities. There appears to

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