It appears to me that certainly filming, and probably also tweeting, taking notes on a laptop, or even possessing a mobile phone in a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) meeting has been forbidden by the GPs and others who run the organisation.
The CCG has a £854 million pound a year budget. To put that into context it is just under £1,000 per patient in Cambridgeshire, or around £1 million per GP. The CCG spends its money on services including, among other things, hospital care, out of hours GP services (unless practices retained responsibility), and ambulance services. NHS England, not the CCG, funds GPs
Section 3.14.3 of Appendix F of the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group’s constitution states:
Use of Mechanical or Electrical Equipment for Recording or Transmission of Meetings
Nothing in these Standing Orders shall be construed as permitting the introduction by the public, or press representatives, of recording, transmitting, video or similar apparatus into meetings of the Governing Body or Committees thereof. Such permission shall be granted only upon resolution of the Governing Body.
While it at first appears the first sentence can be ignored as it doesn’t ban anything; the second sentence suggests permission would be required in order to film, tweet, etc.
The apparent ban on even the “introduction” of a device like a mobile phone into a meeting of the CCG appears especially draconian to me. Many people have reasons for wanting to stay contactable, and such a rule could put people off attending meetings.
No mechanism is given for requesting the Governing Body to resolve to give permission to film, or tweet, from meetings. It is not clear if turning up seeking to film, or use a laptop, or a silent mobile phone, during a meeting would prompt the Governing Body to consider a resolution there and then either giving or denying permission.
My view is the GPs who run Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group should not be making it harder for members of the public, including professional journalists, to report on what they are doing. They approved the constitution which restricts reporting on their activities in February 2013.
Section 3.14.1 of the CCG’s constitution gives meeting chairs the power to “give such directions as they deem fit with regard to the arrangements for meetings and accommodation of the public and representatives of the press such as to ensure that the Governing Body’s business shall be conducted without interruption and disruption”. I think that is reasonable, but would suggest, based on my experiences elsewhere, making clear the act of merely filming a meeting or silently using a phone ought not be considered disruptive.
When a new law on opening up access to local government meetings was proposed recently I suggested adding Clinical Commissioning Groups to those bodies made subject to it, however when details of the proposal emerged Clinical Commissioning Groups were omitted and no MPs at the committee, or when it returned to the full House of Commons, took opportunity to add extra bodies, such as CCGs to the provision on access to local government meetings.
- Cambridgeshire NHS PCT Board Meeting and AGM – Article from September 2009
- Cambridgeshire PCT Board Fail to Grasp Opportunity to Improve Out Of Hours GP Service – August 2009