The Government and Ministers set out their commitments in various ways but what happens to these after they are made and who makes sure they are kept?
This is a key part of the scrutiny work carried out by parliamentary select committees – most commonly through holding inquiries into important policy areas.
We have taken a new step and have established and commissioned an Expert Panel to support this vital scrutiny work .
This Panel is made up of:
- Core members — healthcare policy experts or professionals with knowledge of the key issues affecting patients.
- Additional members with specific expertise on the topic the Panel is evaluating.
The Chair of the Panel is Professor Dame Jane Dacre.
How does the Panel work?
In our Special Report (published in August 2020) we set out how the Panel will work and decided that the Panel’s first area of evaluation would be maternity services in England.
Here’s a brief summary of the process:
Step 1: Asking the Government on its commitments
We will write to the Government and its associated bodies to set out what its key commitments are in the specific area we have commissioned the Panel to look at. We will, in discussion with the Panel, decide on which commitments to evaluate.
Step 2: An independent evaluation of Government's progress
We will then commission the Panel to conduct a detailed evaluation, independent of us, on the progress made against those commitments, using the following questions:
- Was the commitment met or is it on track to be met?
- Was the commitment effectively funded?
- Did the commitment achieve a positive impact for patients?
- Was the commitment appropriate?
What tools will the Panel use?
The Panel’s evaluation process will draw on the combined expertise of the members of the Panel, as well as using methods such as:
- Interviewing key healthcare stakeholders
- Financial analysis to explore if commitments have been effectively funded
- Analysing public data
- Putting out a call for written evidence and using key word analysis
Step 3: The Committee's action
The Panel will then submit their independent evaluation to us and we will consider the findings as part of our own work into the chosen policy area. The Panel’s final report will include a comprehensive ‘scorecard’ rating similar to the CQC rating (Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement , Inadequate) which measures the progress the Government has made against its commitments. The process will provide us with a comprehensive and independent analysis of Government progress into the chosen policy area which will strengthen our evidence base and support us to hold the Government to account for its actions.
Meet the Panel members
In August 2020 we appointed Professor Dame Jane Dacre as Chair of the Panel. Jane is Professor of Medical Education at University College London, a consultant physician and rheumatologist, and a former President of the Royal College of Physicians.
Six further core members were later appointed to join Dame Jane in overseeing the work of the Expert Panel across several topic areas.
Professionals with knowledge of the key issues affecting patients:
- Sir Robert Francis QC
- Dr Charlotte Augst
- Dr Meerat Kaur
Healthcare policy experts:
- John Appleby
- Anita Charlesworth
- Professor Stephen Peckham
Sir Robert Francis QC is Chair of Healthwatch England and a patient safety expert who chaired the investigation into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust .
"I am delighted to be asked to help the Committee in this important work and to be enabled to help bring to the table the perspective of those who are using or may need health and social care services."
Dr Charlotte Augst is Chief Executive of National Voices, a membership charity for person-centred care and formerly Director of the Richmond Group of Charities.
"Too often, health or care policy is all about the eye-catching announcement. The expert panel being set up by the Health and Social Care Committee is an important attempt to turn the focus to follow-through. I am hopeful that National Voices can help keep our eye on this question: is the experience of using health and care services actually getting better, particularly for those who live with the highest burden of ill health and disadvantage?"
Dr Meerat Kaur is Senior Public Involvement Manager at the National Institute of Health Research Centre for Engagement.
"Health outcomes for specific groups are worsening and yet we are not working effectively with these communities to learn from their experiences, and to shape appropriate solutions. I hope my place on the panel can facilitate a relationship between these communities and places and processes of influence to improve people’s lives."
John Appleby is Chief Economist at the Nuffield Trust and a visiting Professor at City University and Imperial College London.
"Independent evidence-based analysis and scrutiny play a critical role in improving health policy. I hope that the work of this new expert group can help in improving government policy in order to improve the quality of services for the benefit of patients and the public."
Anita Charlesworth is Director of Research at the Health Foundation and an honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham.
‘It is a privilege to be able to support the health and social care committee in its vital work. It is an unprecedent moment in the history of the UK’s health and care so there has never been a more critical time to hold key decision makers to account.’
Professor Stephen Peckham is Director of the Centre for Health Services Studies at the University of Kent, and Professor of Health Policy at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
"Being part of the Panel is an opportunity to support independent scrutiny of policy by holding government to account and helping to improve future health and social care policy."
Areas of inquiry
The Panel is currently looking into the Government’s commitments as they relate to mental health services. We appointed four additional Panel members who have specific knowledge and experience in the delivery of mental health care to support the Panel’s evaluation.
The specialist members of the Panel are:
- Professor Kamaldeep Bhui
- Dr Ananta Dave
- Professor Peter Fonagy
- Karen Turner
The Panel’s rating of the Government’s progress on maternity services was published on 6 July 2021. The Panel found that, overall, the Government’s progress was inadequate.
More information on the Panel’s rating of the Government’s progress on maternity services, including the evidence received by the Panel, is available on our website.
The Health and Social Care Committee is a cross-party committee of MPs that scrutinises the work of the Department of Health and Social Care and its associated public bodies.
Updated on 6 August 2021