To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Government's response to the recommendations of the Transitional Advisory Board regarding the abolition of Community Health Councils and the introduction of patients' forums and independent complaints advisory services. 
The Chief Nursing Officer replied for the Government to the Transition Advisory Board's recommendations on 31 January. A ropy of this response is available at www.doh.gov.uk/involvinqpatients/tab
To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether TUPE—Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations—will apply to Community Health Council staff in relation to patients' forums and independent complaints advisory services. 
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Health, having given careful consideration to the legal position of staff assigned to Community Health Councils, has decided that there will be no Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) transfer of CH C staff in relation to The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, the support to patients' forums and the Independent Complaints and Advocacy Services.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps he plans to take to eradicate variation in the quality of services under the new arrangements for patient advocacy following the abolition of Community Health Councils;(2) what arrangements he has made to ensure the continuity of patient advocacy and a smooth transition to the new arrangements after the abolition of Community Health Councils; (3) what steps his Department has taken to evaluate pilot independent complaints advisory services; and if he will make a statement. 
It is our intention that Independent Complaints Advocacy Services (ICAS) will be available throughout the country from 1 September 2003.In the new system of patient and public involvement, ICAS is the responsibility of primary care trust (PCT) patients' forums. As an interim measure, whilst patients' forums are being established and are building their capacity and networks, we shall be working with the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) to put in place national coverage of ICAS through a contract with specialist complaints support providers.To support this system, we shall make arrangements to enable the CPPIH to manage the contract and to ensure services are provided to national standards.I recently announced an extension to the ICAS pilots to 31 July 2003. The full evaluation of the pilots will take place at the end of June, when we will have three quarterly returns from the pilots on the experience and activity. The evaluation will include all the pilots plus the support offered to them.The initial benchmarking exercise of a sample of the pilots, undertaken in January this year, has shown that ICAS provision has been well received and that pilots need to focus on developing good working relationships with the local national health service, in particular patient advice and liaison services, work with patients to find out their views of the ICAS service and ways of collecting data which can be used to improve NHS services.The CPPIH has a specific remit to set national standards for ICAS and to monitor compliance. The ICAS pilots currently work to draft national standards and are developing local operational protocols, which will inform future provision.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to ensure that the expertise and knowledge of Community Health Council staff are not lost in the new arrangements for patients' forums and independent complaints advisory services. 
We have never envisaged that we could guarantee employment for Community Health Council (CHC) staff in the new system of patient and public involvement or that we would treat CHC staff differently from the way we deal with other national health service staff when they are affected by restructuring—the human resources framework for CHC staff makes this clear. This framework was developed jointly with the employers and NHS unions and will provide help and support to CHC staff to seek alternative employment in the NHS.However, jobs in the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health will be advertised to CHC staff first and those staff who meet the essential criteria for posts will be guaranteed interviews.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consultations the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health commissioners have undertaken on patients' forums and the independent complaints advisory services; and what discussions they have had with the Association of Community Health Councils in England and Wales. 
The Department does not maintain records of discussions held by the individual commissioners of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) and because of this the information requested is not available. More information about the CPPIH and the commissioners is available from its website at www.cppih.org
To ask the Secretary of State for Health who will be responsible for taking up the cases of those patients that remain unresolved by the Community Health Councils on 1 September 2003. 
We are currently working on guidance for the handling of any patients' cases that remain unresolved in Community Health Councils when they are abolished on 1 September 2003.