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.