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NHS: Public Participation

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will bring forward legislation to compel NHS Foundation Trusts to hold board meetings in public; and if he will make a statement. (274915)

A written ministerial statement on Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (FT) was issued on 30 April in response to the reports of the independent reviews undertaken by Professor Sir George Alberti and Dr. David Colin-Thomé.

There is no legal requirement for board of directors meetings to be open to the public and there are no plans to bring forward legislation to compel them to do so. However, the Government response to the Alberti and Colin-Thomé reports stated:

“These reports and the Health Commission report were highly critical of the closed culture that operated at Stafford Hospital. All NHS organisations must ensure they are operating in accordance with current guidance, which promotes openness, transparency and accountability to their local populations, including boards holding meetings in public.”

The NHS Foundation Trust Code of Governance, published by Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS FTs, states that the board of directors of an NHS FT should

“follow a policy of openness and transparency in its proceedings and decision making unless this conflicts with a need to protect the wider interests of the public or the NHS foundation trust (including commercial-in-confidence matters) and make clear how potential conflicts of interests are dealt with”.