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Health Services: Finance

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 4 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department expects to allocate to (a) the Healthcare Commission, (b) the National Patient Safety Agency, (c) the General Social Care Council and (d) the Commission for Social Care Inspection (i) to promote public engagement in their activities and (ii) for communication purposes in (A) 2007-08, (B) 2008-09 and (C) 2009-10. (146201)

The Department has allocated a budget to its arm’s length bodies for 2007-08 and the detailed elements of each are set out as follows.

However, for 2008-09 and 2009-10, while overall indicative budgets have been allocated, the Department and the arm’s length bodies have not yet agreed the detailed elements of their expenditure.

Healthcare Commission

The budget for the patient and public engagement team for 2007-08 is £0.775 million. Public engagement is also supported by other departments, as patients and the public are the primary focus of the Healthcare Commission’s work.

The rest of the communications budget for 2007-08 is £3.117 million. This also includes public engagement in the form of running consultation events and communicating through written reports and the internet.

National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA)

The NPSA Business Plan for 2007-08 states that the Agency will ensure that patients and the public are involved in its work by developing and implementing an involvement strategy in 2007 that takes account of changes resulting from the review of the organisational arrangements to support patient safety, “Safety First” (December 2006). The sum of budget lines that relate specifically to patient and public involvement is £347,288.

Communications supports the Agency’s activity and engagement with the national health service in England and Wales, including feedback reports to each NHS organisation, the work of the National Clinical Assessment Service, the work of the National Research Ethics Service, published guidance on improving medication safety and a high profile patient safety campaign to frontline workers, as well as patients and the public. The total budget for this is approximately £1.7 million.

The General Social Care Council (GSCC)

The GSCC has allocated a budget to its Corporate Communications Directorate in 2007-08 of £1.001 million (as shown in the GSCC Business Plan for 2007-08). However, the GSCC has not allocated this budget between the two criteria that are stated in the question.

The GSCC also has funding within the education support grant that is paid (by the GSCC) to higher education institutes for the involvement of service users and carers in the design and delivery of the social work degree courses. For 2007-08 the earmarked funding is £0.628 million. This funding for this activity is also quoted in the GSCCs Business Plan for 2007-08.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI)

Communications and public involvement are a core function of CSCI’s role. As a service regulator it is important that every aspect of CSCI’s work involves communication with the public in general and, more specifically, with service users, their carers and families and with providers, commissioners and policy makers. By doing this, our work can encourage greater involvement in services, increase awareness of developments and issues in social care and raise the standard of service provision.

Therefore it is not feasible to completely separate the aspects of CSCI’s work, and the budgets, which are specifically about public involvement and communication from those which are not.

However, there is a central function from which the core public and user involvement activities of CSCI are co-ordinated with a budget of £1.039 million for the current year. This budget does not cover all relevant expenditure on communications and public involvement, but it does cover the cost of user involvement activities such as experts by experience, involvement in inspections, user participation in improvement boards, conferences, methodology development etc. and accessible communications.

As well as the public and user involvement function, CSCI has a specific communications function which co-ordinates publications, events, marketing and web development. All of these activities are central to informing the public about and involving the public in CSCI’s work.