Supplementary letter from Lord Warner,
Minister of State, Department of Health (CP 01B)
At the fourth evidence session by the Health
Committee into NHS charges attended by Rosie Winterton MP and
Jane Kennedy MP, you made enquiries about a new dermatology clinic
being run by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (NHSFT)
and asked for Ministers' views on the treatments being offered.
I am sure you will appreciate that due to their
independent status within the NHS and the different accountability
framework within which they operate, Ministers are no longer in
a position to assess, validate and provide information relating
to operational management in NHSFTs in the same way we would for
NHS Trusts. The most common approach is to refer questions relating
to the day to day activities of NHSFTS to the relevant Chair for
answer. In this particular case, I have been informed by the Chair
of Harrogate and District NHSFT that its dermatology clinic has
been set up to fill a gap in service provision for its community.
The clinic offers a range of cosmetic dermatology treatments which
are not ordinarily available to NHS patients as a result of a
loclly agreed cosmetic exclusion policy at PCT level eg removal
of benign moles, warts and skin blemishes, and injections to reduce
excess sweating. While the Department of Health does not call
upon the NHS to operate a cosmetic exclusion policy, I am informed
that such a policy has been in place locally at Harrogate and
District Trust since 2003.
NHSFTs do not have powers to impose charges
for any NHS services, however, legislation permits NHSFTs to impose
charges for other services in certain limited circumstances and
provided specific conditions are met. As Jane Kennedy highlighted
during the evidence session, NHSFTs are also specifically prevented
in law from expanding private patient clinical activity faster
than their expansion of clinical activity for NHS patients. Moreover,
as public benefit corporations, any operating financial surpluses
made by NHSFTs need to be reinvested to promote their public benefit
mandate. NHSFTs are also overseen by Monitor, the Inepdnent Regulator
of NHS Foundation Trusts, for compliance with their terms of authorisation.
NHSFTs are at the forefront of our programme
of change and we share their enthusiasm to promote innovation
and enterprise and are committed to their continuing development.
While NHSFTs are free to set up new ventures (including entering
into joint ventures) without Ministerial consent, these initiatives
must be consistent with their public benefit purpose and terms
Further details about the clinic may be obtained
by writing to the Chair of Harrogate and District NHSFT.
I trust you find this helpful.
Department of Health
4 April 2006