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All CCG decisions should be put out for public consultation, says Miliband

All CCG decisions would be put out for consultation by Health and Wellbeing Boards under plans to increase ‘public debate’ over how NHS resources are allocated, says Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Miliband said in a speech yesterday that the current NHS structure ‘isn’t working’ and that the Labour Party will introduce changes to ensure the patient’s voice is heard if elected in 2015.

The move would end a current approach of ‘decisions taken behind closed doors’ and hand power to patients, he said at the annual Hugo Young lecture.

The text of the speech – released by the Labour Party – appears to contradict plans announced by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham that Labour would strip CCGs of commissioning budgets and hand these directly to health and wellbeing boards.

But the speech refered to prior promises made by Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham that the party will ‘repeal’ the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

Mr Miliband said: ‘The problem with the current approach is that it creates a dynamic of decisions taken behind closed doors, lacking legitimacy, with little public debate about the real reasons a change is being proposed. Clinicians, managers and patients across the NHS know the system we have isn’t working. We need to find far better ways of hearing the patient voice.’

He added: ‘A Labour government will ensure that patients are involved right at the outset: understanding why change might be needed, what the options are and making sure everyone round the table knows what patients care about No change could be proposed by a CCG without patient representatives being involved in drawing up the plan.

‘Then when change is proposed, it should be an independent body, such as the Health and Wellbeing Board, that is charged with consulting with the local community. Not, as happens now, the hospital trust or commissioning group that is seeking the change.’

He added that a Labour government will reverse the controversial 118 clause to be included in the Care Bill that will allow the Government to change the law to allow it to reconfigure successful hospitals without the support of CCGs, after it was reprimanded in a recent High Court case.

He said: ‘We will seek to stop and will, if necessary, reverse the attempts by government, to legislate for the Secretary of State to have the power to change services across whole regions without proper consultation. This is just one example of how we can involve people in the key decisions that affect their lives.’

‘Not saying change will never happen. But saying no change will happen without people having their say.’

Professor Sir John Oldham, the former GP who has led a review on health policies for Labour, will be outlining the party’s plans for healthcare ‘in the coming months’, Mr Miliband added.