Scrutiny reviews

Scrutiny reviews are time-limited projects that look at a Council service or a complex issue affecting residents in detail. They make recommendations to Cabinet or external organisations (such as the NHS) to improve the service or address the issue.

Factors that might influence the topics chosen for a potential scrutiny review include:

  • concerns or complaints about a particular service or issue
  • areas highlighted as priorities by the County Council
  • an issue that members of the public or external organisations have raised with councillors
  • new or evolving areas of work which may benefit from a review

Review boards

A scrutiny committee that agrees to review a particular issue will set up a review board to conduct the review. The committee will agree the board’s membership and what it will, and will not, look at following a scoping process to determine whether there is sufficient value in conducting a review and, if so, what questions it should focus on.

Most review boards comprise 3 to 5 members. A Chair is elected from the members to lead the review.

The review board will gather detailed evidence from a variety of sources, which may include:

  • national regulations and guidance
  • Council policies
  • best practice from other local authorities
  • questionnaires and surveys conducted by the Council or other organisations
  • written submissions from experts, community and voluntary organisations, campaign groups, services users and the public

Members of the review board may also carry out site visits to gain a better understanding of a service or issue.

Review boards will hold meetings and invite witnesses to give evidence and their perspective on the issue. Witnesses may include:

  • senior officers of the Council
  • other staff from the Council or external organisations
  • representatives of community and voluntary organisations
  • members of campaign groups

Review board members will then put detailed questions to witnesses to explore their lines of enquiry, based on the evidence gathered.

By gathering such a wide range of information on a particular issue and speaking to a wide range of witnesses, the scrutiny members can ensure that any recommendations they put forward are evidence-based.

The report outlining the board’s findings and recommendations is presented to its scrutiny committee for agreement. It is then submitted to Cabinet for a written response and then to Full Council for consideration alongside the Cabinet response. Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommendations go directly to the NHS for response. The scrutiny committee usually monitors how its recommendations have been responded to after 6 and 12 months.

Reviewing NHS services 

The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) has a special power to review and comment on any proposed change to health services in East Sussex that is considered to be a substantial change to the existing service. This could include the replacement of a particular service in a town with a new service, such as the replacement of a walk-in centre with new types of urgent care services, or the merger of a hospital service from two sites to one, such as replacing two separate stroke units with a single, hyper-acute stroke unit. 

Once the NHS has taken a decision, HOSC can consider whether it was in the best interests of health services for local residents. If HOSC has concerns about the decision which cannot be resolved through discussion with the local NHS, the Committee may then refer the decision to the Secretary of State for Health for review.

Current scrutiny reviews and scoping meetings 

Current scrutiny reviews are listed below. Each link will take you to the scrutiny committee where the review was agreed as part of the Committee’s work programme.

HOSC

People 

  • No reviews currently underway

Place 

  • No reviews currently underway

Completed scrutiny reviews 

Recent completed scrutiny reviews by the People, Place and Health Scrutiny Committees are listed below. Each link will take you to the final scrutiny committee report (it will open as a PDF).

HOSC 

People 

Place 

You can search the archive of meetings dating back to 2001 via the  Browse meetings page. If you can’t find what you are looking for, contact us using the details at the bottom of this page.