A NEW health and social care Bill will be introduced into the Assembly today, signalling the end of Community Health Councils in Wales.

These bodies have acted for patients as independent health watchdogs for 45 years, but they will be replaced next summer by an independent citizen voice body that will also deal with social care issues.

This single body is intended to represent the voice of the public, and provide complaints advice and assistance for individuals relating to their health and social care experiences.

Its formation intends to reflect the aims of the Welsh Governments 10-year ‘A Healthier Wales’ plan, by supporting a drive towards closer integration of health and social care, and putting people’s voices at the heart of the design, delivery and improvement of services.

The new Health and Social Care (Quality and Engagement) (Wales) Bill has the aim of improving quality and public engagement in health and social care.

It will refocus and broaden the existing duty of care on NHS bodies in Wales and will place an overarching duty on Welsh ministers in relation to their health service functions. This is to ensure that when they make a decision they actively consider if it secures improvement in quality and outcomes.

The Bill also seeks to establish organisational duty of candour, to support a culture of openness, transparency and candour widely associated with good quality care.

It is hoped too, that this will further ensure that NHS organisations are open and honest with patients and service users when things go wrong, and builds on the work already done on increasing transparency among NHS bodies in Wales.

“In Wales, we are fortunate to enjoy some of the best health and social care services, provided by committed and compassionate staff at all levels," said health minister Vaughan Gething.

"But we need to ensure quality is further embedded in the context of an open and learning culture, which listens to all voices in driving forward improvement.

The Bill now begins its scrutiny process at the Assembly. If passed, it will become law in summer 2020.