Schedule 2 - Safeguarding Adults Boards

Care Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:30 pm ar 21 Ionawr 2014.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People) 2:30, 21 Ionawr 2014

I beg to move amendment 119, in schedule 2, page 119, line 24, at end insert—

‘(e) The Secretary of State.’.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation, NATO Parliamentary Assembly (President)

With this, it will be convenient to discuss amendment 120, in schedule 2, page 119, line 24, at end insert—

‘(e) The Chief Inspector for Social Care.’.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People)

I will keep this short. These two amendments are practical. They are essentially about ensuring that we learn the lessons of any issues, problems or practices that come up on safeguarding vulnerable adults, and that we learn the lessons from councils across the country. They relate to the fact that the new safeguarding boards will all have to produce an annual report. Amendment 119 proposes that those reports be given to the Secretary of State, and amendment 120 that they also be given to the chief inspector for social care. That is because we need to ensure that across the country we draw out any key themes that emerge about types of abuse that are occurring or increasing, or about any problems, in policy and practice, in preventing, tackling or stamping out abuse. Those issues may well include those that we debated earlier to do with the need to gain the power to access people’s homes, or to tackle neglect and abuse among care home providers. Different types of abuse are emerging that have not been properly identified.

Obviously, I want to help the Secretary of State, and it would benefit any Secretary of State if he—or she, perhaps, one day. [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] I was thinking of my former boss. It would benefit them if they could look across what is happening in different councils to see if issues were emerging. However, it would also benefit the chief inspector for social care if she—or indeed he, one day—could draw out themes.

I will focus on that point for a moment. As we have already said, the Care Quality Commission’s powers and responsibilities regarding monitoring and inspecting how local councils commission services are removed by the Bill. Ministers have said several times, “Ah, but it can still do thematic inspections.” If it received all the annual reports from local councils, it would be in the best position to define what those thematic inspections might look at. This is a way of saying, “Let’s learn from what is happening across the country. Let’s not reinvent the wheel; let’s make sure that the Secretary of State and the chief inspector for social care can really look at what is happening across the country, to identify problems that may need to be addressed—in policy, in practice or in the CQC’s reviews—and to make sure that we have high-quality care and support, and do everything we can to stamp out abuse and neglect, and prevent it from happening in the first place in all parts of the country.” It is a practical suggestion, which I hope the Minister will accept.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

I thought that the hon. Lady was going to go on a little longer, so I am still eating my Polo. Apologies for that.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation, NATO Parliamentary Assembly (President)

I strongly approve of people eating York-made produce. Has that given you enough time to chomp it up?

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

I am glad that I have made the Chairman happy. It is all part of the service.

I thank the shadow Minister and her hon. Friends for tabling the amendment. The Bill places a duty on safeguarding adults boards to publish their annual reports, as she mentioned. Those reports will be publicly available to ensure transparency regarding the way that the boards work. That means that the Secretary of State and the chief inspectors, like anyone else, will be able freely to access and review the reports of all safeguarding adults boards. I agree with the shadow Minister that themes may well emerge from analysis of those annual reports. The analysis could be by pressure groups and so on, which could be enormously valuable in putting pressure on the system and demanding change.

Safeguarding adults boards will operate at a local level. We would expect the local healthwatch and health and wellbeing boards to monitor the safeguarding adults boards’ progress and report to the Secretary of State if there were particular matters of concern about their operation. That would again put the health and wellbeing boards centre stage in the local health care system. We would also expect them to report to the chief inspector of adult social care if there were particular matters of concern about a board’s operation, or about a registered provider of adult social care.

We have always been clear that the role of Government is to provide vision and direction, and to ensure that the legal framework is clear. The law must be proportionate and maximise local flexibility, so that the best decisions can be made and tailored to the needs of each community. I am confident that the Bill creates the right balance between accountability and flexibility, together with openness, so I respectfully ask the shadow Minister to withdraw the amendment. The transparency that we are requiring will enable real concerns to be raised.

Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Llafur, Easington

The Minister has explained why the Committee should reject the amendment. Can he advise us on what the Minister at the Department of Health will do with the information collected? Is the intention to analyse that, or have some third party do so, and draw the necessary lessons, or will it be deposited at the Department of Health, to be used as part of the evidence if something goes wrong?

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

It is, of course, the Opposition amendment that seeks to require the supply of the reports up to the national level. The Government are saying that, because there will be that complete transparency, we do not think it necessary to add a requirement for it to be sent up. The great danger, as the hon. Gentleman says, is that it gathers dust on a shelf, or virtual shelf, and that nothing happens. The fact that there is transparency and we now have health and wellbeing boards, due to the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam when he was in this post, enables real issues of concern that arise from the annual reports to be taken up by the chief inspector of social care, or the appropriate person to pursue them.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Llafur, Sefton Central

The Minister has started a debate. On safeguarding adults boards, the children’s safeguarding boards are to be inspected from November by Ofsted. Does he think there are lessons in the approach being adopted for children, following on from the point about what happens to information collected? Is there a lesson and a parallel around inspection, to avoid the problem he has identified of evidence just sitting on a shelf?

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

In previous discussions, I have tried to make the point that where there is clear evidence of a real problem, the CQC, with local government, can intervene, inspect and report, and it has powers then to take action. We have moved away from the regular annual process that bogged down local government in substantial bureaucracy but may not have achieved the objectives that we seek.

The more targeted work of the CQC may well be more effective, provided that that work is used. I have made it clear that it should be used where there is clear need. I hope that the shadow Minister will agree to withdraw her amendment.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People)

I do not think that we want to press the amendments to a vote, but it is important that someone centrally looks across all these themes, issues and concerns about what is happening on the ground to ensure that policy, practice and legislation keep up with the issues raised by safeguarding. I hope that the Secretary of State, the Minister with responsibility for care and, crucially, the chief inspector of adult social care regularly ensure that their teams do that, as that is the way to change the culture proactively and address any problems. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clauses 44 to 47 ordered to stand part of the Bill.