At the end of last week, I reported that Andrew Lansley was planning to change the status of the new local HealthWatch organisation so that patient representation could be put out to competitive tender.

The Department of Health has form on this: the organisations acting as “hosts” for Local Involvement Networks were selected following a competitive tendering process in 2007 and bids were sought from throughout the European Union and here, so I am told, is the text of the advert in the Uzbechistan Times:

Gloucester: health and social work services

Takliflar

Umumiy ma’lumot
Davlat: ??????????? ???????????
Shaxar/axoli punkti: GLOUCESTER
Kontrakt yoki xabarnoma raqami: eu:281809-2007
Chop etilish sanasi: Noy 30, 2007
Amal qilish muddati: Yanv 7, 2008
Xaridor: GLOUCESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
   
Original matn tili: ??????????
 
Bog’lanish uchun ma’lumot
Manzil: GLOUCESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
GLOUCESTER , Gloucestershire
??????????? ???????????
Veb-saxifa: http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=14857

 (I am afraid the cyrillic script doesn’t come out very well in WordPress.)

The fact that the previous Government allowed this function to be tendered doesn’t make it right for the proposed new system, particularly as Ministers have complained about the cost of administering previous patient representation structures which were based on this “hosting” principle.

All in all it looks like “dogma gone mad” with no regard to the cost or to whether it will deliver more effective patient representation.

I have this afternoon tabled two Parliamentary Questions on the subject:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government:

    1. What would be the cost of requiring local authorities to put out to competitive tender contracts to run local HealthWatch organisations?
    2. What was the cost of putting out to tender contracts to act as hosts to Local Involvement Networks?”
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