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Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.

Current Chapter

Current chapter – Partnership working

The Department and the HSCIC will work together, and with the Department's other arm's length bodies, in the interests of patients, people who use services and the public to maximise the health and wellbeing gain for the population, working to the values set out in the NHS Constitution. To support this, the HSCIC and the Department will follow an 'open book' approach. In the case of issues with an impact on the development or implementation of policy, the Department can expect to be kept informed by the HSCIC. In the same way, the Department will seek to keep the HSCIC apprised of developments in policy and Government. There are likely to be some issues where the Department or the HSCIC will expect to be consulted by the other before the Department or the HSCIC makes either a decision or a public statement on a matter. The Department and the HSCIC will make clear which issues fall into this category in good time. The sponsor team will be responsible for ensuring that this works effectively. However particular arrangements apply to access to pre-publication statistics, which are described fully in Annex A, paragraphs 25-27.

Shared principles

To support the development of this relationship, the Department of Health and HSCIC have agreed to a set of shared principles:

  • Working together for patients, people who use services and the public, demonstrating our commitment to the values of the NHS set out in its Constitution.
  • Respect for the importance of autonomy throughout the system, and the freedom of individual organisations to exercise their functions in the way they consider most appropriate.
  • Recognition that the Secretary of State is ultimately accountable to Parliament and the public for the system overall. HSCIC will support the Department in the discharge of its accountability duties, and the Department will support HSCIC in the same way.
  • Working together openly and positively. This will include working constructively and collaboratively with other organisations within and beyond the health and social care system.

To support the Secretary of State and the PAO in their accountability functions, in addition to the HSCIC's annual report, the Secretary of State has the power to require HSCIC to provide to him or her such reports and information relating to the exercise of its functions as the Secretary of State may require. If necessary, the Senior Departmental Sponsor‟s team will be responsible for prioritising these requests for information.

Emergency preparedness, resilience and response

The SCIC will work with the Department, Public Health England, NHS England and other organisations involved in civil resilience to develop and resource effective, tested and coordinated plans to manage incidents and emergencies, including any necessary changes to the supply of goods and services. 

Public and Parliamentary Accountability

The Department and its ALBs share responsibility for accounting to the public and to Parliament for policies, decisions and activities across the health and care sector. Accountability to Parliament will often be demonstrated through parliamentary questions, MPs' letters and appearances before parliamentary committees. Accountability to the public may be through the publication of information on the HSCIC's website, as well as through responses to letters from the public and responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Department and its ministers remain responsible to Parliament for the system overall, so will often have to take the lead in demonstrating this accountability. Where this is the case, the HSCIC will support the Department by, amongst other things, providing information for ministers to enable them to account to Parliament. In its turn, the Department will provide leadership to the system for corporate governance, including setting standards for performance in accountability.

The HSCIC will, however, have its own responsibilities in accounting to the public and to Parliament, and its way of handling these responsibilities will be agreed with the Department. In all matters of public and parliamentary accountability the Department and its ALBs will work together considerately, cooperatively and collaboratively, and any information provided by the HSCIC will be timely, accurate and, where appropriate, consistent with information provided by the Department. To facilitate this, the Department and the HSCIC have agreed a public and parliamentary accountability protocol that sets out how they will work together to secure the confidence of the public and Parliament, and to maintain the service levels that MPs and the public have come to expect.

Last edited: 16 November 2022 2:17 pm