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Community Health Councils

Volume 887: debated on Tuesday 25 February 1975

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18.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is satisfied that sufficient publicity is given to the membership and powers of the community health councils.

Community health councils are responsible for their own publicity, and I am satisfied that those which have been in operation for any length of time are generally discharging this responsibility very actively.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, bearing in mind the urgent need for proper democratic control in our National Health Service—an opportunity which was missed in the 1973 legislation—we need to take far more positive steps to publicise the activities of community health councils, which we are likely to have to live with for a number of years, so that people are made aware of the fact that the NHS is their service and is, and should be, answerable to them?

I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. We intend to try to increase the democracy in the National Health Service. We believe that the community health councils have a very important part to play. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services appointed two advisers on the community health councils who have produced a valuable report. We are in process of establishing a national council to be the national voice of the community health councils, and it will be the independent voice of the patient in arguing no doubt for extra resources for the health service.