FMQ - Community Health Councils and Patient Advocacy - 3rd October 2017

Janet Finch-Saunders AM

Will the First Minister make a statement on patient advocacy services in Wales?

 

Carywn Jones AM - First Minister

 

Yes. We’re committed to providing effective patient advocacy services in Wales. Services are provided to adults by community health councils, and local health boards are responsible for arranging the provision of advocacy services to children and specialist mental health advocates.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders AM

 

Thank you. During our debate recently, your Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport was very much in favour of abolishing community health councils and replacing them with a new body. This is despite an inordinate amount of public objection. How ironic then, First Minister, that, in my most recent correspondence with the Cabinet Secretary regarding a problematic constituent case, he has had the audacity to suggest that I recommend to my constituents approaching their CHC, in effect passing the buck for the shortcomings of his, and your, health service. First Minister, would you not agree with me that this is rather duplicitous of the Cabinet Secretary, and would you also place on record your acknowledgement and support of the work that the community health councils and their volunteers have carried out on behalf of our patients as an advocacy service over many years?

 

Carywn Jones AM - First Minister

 

Duplicitous—that’s the word of the day. I think we had that yesterday from the Secretary of State for Wales in his widely ignored speech. [Laughter.] I don’t accept at all that the Cabinet Secretary has been in any way duplicitous. Of course, he would refer a constituent of yours to an independent advocacy service. That’s what exists under the current structure and that’s what will exist in the future—an independent service. The Minister cannot be by nature independent, so I think the answer he’s given to you is absolutely correct: that if your patient needs advocacy, it is right that that advocacy service should be independent. It’s right, then, that it is the community health council, as they provide that service at this moment in time, and—we look to see, of course, what the responses will be to the White Paper—your constituent, I believe, has been given the right advice, based on what you’ve told me in the Chamber today.