Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by Ruth Marsden (HS 66)

Ruth Marsden: heavily involved in ppi for 10 years. Currently member of Hull LINk (Local Involvement Network), Lead Group member for East Riding of Yorkshire LINk, regional representative for Yorkshire and Humberside for National Association of LINks (NALM) , also NALM Steering Group member and Vice Chair of NALM, and currently member of Advisory Board for Healthwatch with CQC/D of H.

1. Experience over LINks’ lifetime has shown that for a significant number of LINks, the local authority has not been a ‘safe pair of hands’. LAs’ Contract Managers, often more used to bridges and roads, have had contracting for and management of LINk hosts organisations left to them.

2. Even over the last three years of relative plenty, LAs have withheld LINks’ budget allocations to the tune of over £3m. Now that the local authorities’ own budgets have been squeezed, even more is being withheld, current information showing cuts for 2011 – 2012 of 20% to over 60%. Monitoring of social care commissioned and provided by councils is impossible when councils hold the purse strings of the monitors.

3. Andrew Lansley, at the Conservative Party Summit on Patient and Public Engagement in October 2006 said, " On the important issue of independence, local involvement networks (LINks) would struggle to be credible as long as they are funded through local government."

How right he was.

4. It is now proposed that Healthwatch be funded through the same local-government route . This leaves HW money open to being appropriated by the local authorities and risks the current flow becoming a haemorrhage.

5. The proposals leave the local authority tanks on the Healthwatch lawn! Funding for Healthwatch must come through Healthwatch England.

February 2011