The Liberal Democrat health spokesman in the Lords has called for the Health Bill to be amended to give HealthWatch more “teeth”.
Local HealthWatch groups are due to take over the role of leading patient and public involvement from local involvement networks (Links) under reform plans.
The bill’s second reading in the Lords will be on 11 October and it is expected to be amended as it passes through the house. The extend of amendments will depend on the scale of resistance, particularly from Lib Dem and crossbench peers.
Health minister Paul Burstow told the party’s conference in Birmingham this week the government was open to further amendments - in particular he highlighted clauses about the duty of the health secretary in securing provision of services.
The Lib Dem health spokesman in the Lords, Baroness Judith Jolly, called for further changes at a fringe event hosted by National Voices, the Royal College of GPs and the Alzheimer’s Society, on Monday.
She said: “We need to look very carefully what the rules are for local HealthWatch [and] to give it some teeth. [Also] I’m not sure it has the right composition.”
Baroness Jolly said the bodies should have greater ability to refer concerns to the health secretary, and should have greater representation of “stakeholders”, such as local police and other services.
She also said the Lords would seek more clarity was needed on how the bill would aid better integration on service.
National Voices chief executive Jeremy Taylor called at the party conference for the bill to be more specific about the duty of organisations including clinical commissioning groups and the NHS Commissioning Board to involve patients. He said it should be more specific about the meaning of involvement.
The fringe meeting, about integrated care, also heard about the disjointed services experienced by many patients with long term conditions.