Proposed amendments to the Health Bill would effectively subject private and third sector bodies to the Freedom of Information Act by giving commissioners more power to require information from them.
Amendments are now being tabled in the Lords ahead of the bill’s committee stage, which begins on Tuesday.
A set of changes tabled today by Conservative Lord Lucas would force independent providers to supply any information that might be needed for commissioners to answer a freedom of information request.
Providers would have to release information on the performance of the contract, its ability to comply with the contract including performance under previous similar contracts, and any information on facilities, premises, equipment, staff, policies, procedures, performance, deliberations, communications, decisions or actions relevant to patients.
The issue of transparency is also addressed in an amendment tabled today by crossbencher Baroness Masham, which would place a new duty of transparency on the secretary of state for health. It appears it would bring about a stronger “duty of candour” than that currently proposed by the Department of Health.
Under her proposals, the secretary of state would have to act “with a view to securing that any persons providing health services should provide, within as short a period as possible, full information to patients, their carers or representative about any incident or omission in or affecting their care which may have caused harm, or may in the future cause harm.”
Baroness Masham also wants the Care Quality Commission to have the power to take action against a registered person or body who fails to give details of such incidents.
Meanwhile Labour peers Baroness Royall and Lord Hunt have moved that the NHS Commissioning Board should hold an annual meeting in public, in which the annual accounts, any audit of those accounts, and the board’s annual report are presented.