County Councillor Nick Chard, chairman of KCC’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, talks about the important role of the committee which monitors the local NHS.
"I was delighted when asked, earlier this year, to be Chairman of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Kent County Council. The committee has the ability to examine and comment upon any aspect of healthcare in Kent and focuses on those subjects of particular interest to the people of Kent. Of great interest to us in Sevenoaks is our new hospital at Pembury and our much loved Sevenoaks community hospital. The committee's current work programme is to test whether the NHS in Kent is financially sustainable and what the impact on patient care could be as a result of the economic situation.
It is a statutory committee and so has a range of powers to enable it to require information from the NHS and ask people to attend its meetings to answer questions. The NHS also has a duty to involve the HOSC in consultations on any plans they have to change what services are provided or the way they are. The Committee is able to influence the outcomes of the consultation because, in exceptional circumstances, it can refer an important issue to the Secretary of State for Health.
The Committee Membership consists of County and Borough Councillors from across Kent as well as two representatives from the Kent LINk. This means it is able to look at issues from a variety of perspectives, but always with the same aims – tackling the issues which matter to people, recommending the changes needed to improve services across the County as a whole and standing up for Kent residents."