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Independent Reconfiguration Panel

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether she plans to make rulings of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel binding; (144044)

(2) if she will make it her policy to allow local overview and scrutiny committees to refer plans to reconfigure local NHS services directly to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) is an advisory non-departmental public body. The panel provides advice to Ministers on proposals for national health service change in England that have been referred to the Secretary of State by overview and scrutiny committees (OSCs).

The Government’s response to the recent Health Select Committee report on patient and public involvement in the NHS states:

“it is for the Secretary of State to determine when she wishes to seek independent advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP)”.

The IRP is also available to provide informal advice to organisations involved in developing proposals for NHS service change and is contacted each year by a number of NHS organisations, OSCs and other interested parties. In its informal role, the panel supports organisations in developing proposals for NHS service change and implementing good practice, thereby avoiding cases being contested and referred formally to the Secretary of State at a later date.

There are no plans to change the arrangements for handling referrals to the Secretary of State, nor the role of the IRP.