Agenda item

Joint Health Scrutiny Protocol

For Members to receive an update on the development of the BCP and Dorset Joint Health Scrutiny Protocol. A draft of the protocol is attached to this agenda including comments received to date, any further updates will be reported to the Committee.


Members received an update on the development of the BCP and Dorset Joint Health Scrutiny Protocol and comments and questions were invited on the current draft document.


The Corporate Director for Adult Social Care and the Deputy-Head of Democratic Services introduced the item and provided an overview of the Protocol.


Members heard that the main reason for joint health scrutiny between BCP Council and Dorset Council would be on issues affecting all residents across both conurbations, to provide efficiency on considering those issues and preventing officers or partners from duplicating work. Furthermore, where the NHS may propose significant variation in local health services it is good practice for the geographical area as a whole to scrutinise the issue. Additional overlap, also exists in the Clinical Commissioning Group, the Hospital Trusts, Dorset Healthcare Community Trusts and Healthwatch Dorset, among others.

In terms of the joint scrutiny practicalities, Members heard that when an item has been selected for joint scrutiny, it would be agreed that one of the Council’s would lead on the item. The procedure rules of the lead Council would be used and a member from the lead Council would Chair the meeting. Membership would involve 3-5 members of each respective Council depending on levels of interest and scale/significance of issue. Items to be considered under joint scrutiny would be agreed by the Chairs of both Council’s respective scrutiny Committees, in consultation with Committee members and officers. The role of Healthwatch in Joint Scrutiny is acknowledged and would be encouraged in joint scrutiny work. Each constituent Committee should receive a report detailing the outcome of the Joint Scrutiny Committee’s work.

Specific attention was given to point 10 of the Protocol and the delegation of referral powers to the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee (JHSC). The Committee heard that where members hold a valid concern that a proposed variation to local health services is not in best interest of local residents, they have the ability to make a referral to the Secretary of State. This is a very specific power that can be exercised by the Committee. This power can also be delegated to the JHSC. The Joint Health Scrutiny Protocol states that it would only be in exceptional circumstances that a referral from the JHSC to the Secretary of State could be overturned by one of the constituent Councils. it would then require Full Council support to withdraw the delegated power from the JHSC and reconsider the decision made. Advice from NHS partners states, and in the spirit of good scrutiny practice, if Joint Health Scrutiny is held and a decision made, it is important that the outcome is validated.

Members asked several questions, which were answered by the Corporate Director for Adult Social Care and the Deputy-Head of Democratic Services. The questions and answers were as follows:


·       A member asked a question on the quorum of the JHSC. The Committee were informed that the JHSC must have a minimum of 3 appointed members from both Councils. However, there was the acknowledgement that in some cases there may be late changes to membership and therefore the quorum of the Committee would stand at 2 members from each Council.

·       A member commented on the number of delegate members from each constituent scrutiny committee and the frequency of meetings of the JHSC. The Committee heard that in the last year there had only been one item of joint scrutiny commissioned, relating to COVID19 and that the expectation was that the number of items requiring joint scrutiny would be low. Members also heard that the number of members from each constituent committee would enable there to be efficient and effective joint scrutiny that would, in each respective case, utilise the skills and interests of the selected members.

·       A question was raised on who would have the casting vote if there was a parity of votes on an item of joint scrutiny. The Committee were informed that the Chair of the JHSC would hold a casting vote, as per the Council’s procedure rules.

·       It was clarified that the decision to commission an item for joint scrutiny would rest with the constituent committee and there would not always be the need for an item to be jointly scrutinised, each item would be assessed by the Chairs of the respective Council Committees  in consultation with members before a  JHSC process would be agreed.

·       The Committee recommended that the JHSC Protocol would be reviewed not less than two years after its adoption.


The Committee acknowledged that there were some pre-existing areas for potential joint scrutiny, including the SWAST and NHS implementation and performance of Dorset Urgent Integrated Care Service.


RESOLVED that: following the summary, the update contained within Item 10 and questions and comments made by the Committee, that the Joint Health Scrutiny Protocol be agreed for use and a review of the Protocol be received within two years.


Voting: Unanimous.


Supporting documents: